Hamas spokesman, Hazem Qasem, has denounced some Arab countries for meeting with Israeli officials in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to prepare for another Negev Forum in Morocco, describing their participation as "insistence on the sin of their normalisation with the Occupation State", The Palestinian Information Centre reports.
In a statement on Monday, spokesman Qasem said that such Arab normalisation meetings would encourage the "fascist and racist" Israeli government to escalate its aggression against the Palestinian people, their holy sites and prisoners.
The steering committee of the Negev Forum — bringing together Israel, its Abraham Accords partners (UAE, Bahrain and Morocco), Egypt and the US — met Monday in Abu Dhabi to prepare for its second multilateral summit, scheduled for the spring in Morocco.
Israel's delegation is led by Foreign Ministry Director-General, Alon Ushpiz. Over 20 senior officials from the agriculture, defence, health, tourism, intelligence, energy, economy and education ministries flew with Ushpiz, as well as representatives from the water authority and national Security Council, according to The Times of Israel website.
The meetings, which will run through Tuesday, are the Steering Committee's third gathering since the inaugural Negev Summit last March in Israel. The Committee previously met in Bahrain in June and on Zoom in October.
The six Negev Forum working groups are also meeting in the UAE to discuss issues and sign agreements related to regional security, education, tolerance, water, food, security, tourism and energy.
READ: Working groups for Negev Forum convene in Abu Dhabi