(Photo Credit: AFP)
New efforts are being made for the participation of Jordan at the Negev Forum, as representatives of member states prepare for the upcoming gathering.
The gathering includes representatives from the US, the UAE, Israel, Bahrain, Egypt, and Morocco, while Jordan was not present during the last Negev summit in Sde Boker in southern Israel in March.
Despite dates not being finalized, the UAE has already declared its readiness to host the Negev Forum working groups in November, according to US officials.
The groups consist of six panels tasked with advancing regional projects in regional security, food, water security, energy, health, education, and tourism.
According to reports, Morocco is preparing to host the second annual ministerial gathering in January 2023.
Jordanian officials have previously indicated that they are not prepared to join the Negev Forum as long as Palestinians are excluded from the gathering. However, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has shown no interest in collaborating with the joint initiative.
Palestinian resistance movements have condemned the summit as another attempt to legitimize the normalization deals that Israel signed with some Arab countries in 2020.
The PA accused Tel Aviv of using the summit to hide atrocities committed inside occupied territories.
“This Israeli mobilization aims to cover up its actions of deepening settlement expansion and creeping annexation, Judaizing Jerusalem, and preventing the establishment of a Palestinian state,” the PA stated.
Israel and the US have stressed the importance of having Jordan in the fold, as they claim it would demonstrate that the Negev Forum is not looking to bypass the Palestinian issue. “Not all members care equally about the Palestinian issue, so having a country like Jordan at the table will ensure that they will constantly remain on the agenda, given [Amman’s] critical role in the [Israeli-Palestinian] conflict.”
Back in June, officials and delegates from the US, Israel, Bahrain, the UAE, Morocco, and Egypt met in the Bahraini capital of Manama for a continuation of multilateral discussions.
Of the many subjects discussed, the main issues of concern revolved around countering Ira, as well as the Palestinian issue.
Jordanian King Abdullah II said he would warmly support a NATO-style military alliance for West Asian nations during an interview with CNBC on 24 June.
“I would be one of the first people [to] endorse a Middle East Nato,” King Abdullah stated in the interview.