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Israel uses meeting with Arab countries to announce new Middle East 'security apparatus'

United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Brussels, Belgium on 4 March 2022 [Thierry Monasse/Anadolu Agency]
United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Brussels, Belgium on 4 March 2022 [Thierry Monasse/Anadolu Agency]

In what is being portrayed as a ground-breaking summit, top diplomats from Israel, US and four Arab countries, discussed the creation of new security architecture earlier today. Dubbed the "Negev Summit," Israel's Foreign Minister, Yair Lapid, met with his US counterpart, Antony Blinken, and the Foreign Ministers of Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco and the UAE. The three Arab countries controversially normalised diplomatic ties with the occupation state in 2020 during the administration of Donald Trump, while Egypt was the first Arab state to sign a peace treaty with Israel, in 1979.

"What we are doing here is making history — building a new regional architecture based on progress, technology, religious tolerance, security and intelligence cooperation," said Lapid, who organised the conference.

"This new architecture and shared capabilities we are building," Lapid added, "intimidates and deters our common enemies — first and foremost, Iran and its proxies." Lapid also mentioned that the summit will become a "regular forum." However, there are no reports of any formal agreement being signed with the Arab countries on new security architecture.

Embracing fully the so-called Abraham Accords negotiated by Trump, Blinken said that "just a few years ago this gathering would have been impossible to imagine." The US Secretary of State, however, stated that the Abraham Accords are not a substitute to the Palestinian issue, adding that this issue has been raised during the summit.

READ: US Congress to promote more normalisation with Israel

Arab governments in attendance also maintained that the summit must make progress on implementing a two-state solution for the Palestinians, with Israeli occupied East Jerusalem as its capital.

The summit took place in Sde Boker, a small desert town in southern Israel that was the final home of David Ben-Gurion, Israel's first prime minister. There was a small protest outside, drawing attention to Israel's occupation of Palestine. One group held a banner that said: "Isn't someone missing?" in reference to the Palestinians.

Speaking at a press conference in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian factions described the summit as "the summit of shame in the occupied Negev" and a "stab in the back" of the Palestinian people, who have been enduring "savage" Israeli attacks for more than seven decades.

"The real threat to the Arab people is the Zionist occupation," insisted the factions. The summit, they said, was aimed at marketing the formation of an Arab-Zionist alliance as an extension to NATO which is facing is biggest challenge in recent history following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Rights group have called on Blinken to use his visit to Israel and Palestine to reaffirm America's commitment to international law and human rights.

"There is no better moment for Secretary Blinken to show the world that the US will hold Israel to the same standards of international law, forbidding annexation and the unlawful acquisition of territory through the use of force that it is using to demand an end to Russia's invasion and occupation of Ukraine," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Executive Director of Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN).

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