Morocco will delay a summit it is hosting between Israel and Arab states that have signed “Abraham Accords” peace pacts, its Foreign Minister said on Friday, amid rising strife in the West Bank, Reuters reports.
The decision to postpone the summit until after the summer comes after Israel decided to expand settlement-building in the Occupied West Bank and after an Israeli raid on Jenin in which five people were killed.
Moroccan Foreign Minister, Nasser Bourita, said the decision was partly over scheduling but also because of what he called “provocative and unilateral acts” that “undermine peace efforts in the region”.
He condemned the Israeli army raid on Jenin, in the West Bank, and rejected Israel’s decision to expand settlements in occupied territory where Palestinians want to establish an independent state.
Israel said its operation in Jenin was intended to arrest two Palestinians suspected of attacks. It announced the decision to build 1,000 new houses in the Eli settlement in the West Bank in response to a Palestinian gun attack nearby.
Morocco is one of four Arab states, alongside the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan, that moved closer to Israel in 2020 as part of a US-driven diplomatic initiative.
Rabat boosted ties with Israel and agreed to move towards full diplomatic relations in return for US recognition of its sovereignty over the territory of Western Sahara, which is claimed by an Algeria-backed independence movement.
Morocco has said it wants to see the creation of a Palestinian state with its capital in east Jerusalem as part of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The planned summit follows one held last year in Israel’s Negev desert between Israel, Bahrain, Morocco, the UAE, United States and Egypt, which agreed to peace with Israel in 1979.
Israel had previously announced that Morocco would host the forum in March, with Foreign Minister, Eli Cohen, saying other countries that do not have ties with Israel might also attend. A Cohen aide has blamed the delay on the difficulty of coordinating the schedule.
Morocco, like other Arab countries that established ties with Israel under the Abraham Accords, has become a significant Israeli defence client.
Yair Kulas, an export official in Israel’s Defence Ministry, told Kan radio on Thursday that defence deals had not been impacted by tensions over Israeli government policies towards the Palestinians.