Morocco pulls out of hosting Negev Forum over Israeli settlement plans – Middle East Monitor

Morocco has pulled out of hosting the second Negev Forum scheduled for next month, the Times of Israel reported on Tuesday. The forum includes officials from Israel, the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco, Egypt and the US.

The newspaper reported US and Israeli officials as saying that the reason for cancelled the event is the Israeli government’s recent decision to expand illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.

The Forum brings together the foreign ministers from the Palestinian Authority as well as the US and the Arab states which have ties or peace treaties with Israel. Its main function is to mobilise collective security efforts in favour of the apartheid state.

The second gathering should have been held in March, but it has been delayed several times due to repeated Israeli escalations against the Palestinians. According to the Times of Israel, another reason for the postponements is the discomfort among Arab participants over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hard-line coalition government.

READ: Israel considers recognition of Morocco rule over Western Sahara

Morocco apparently agreed last week to host the gathering, but the announcement of a meeting to advance plans for over 4,500 new settlement homes, along with Netanyahu giving control over settlement plans to extreme far-right Financial Minister Bezalel Smotrich, is said to have angered Rabat.

Meanwhile, the US official said that the settlement moves might not directly impact the Biden administration’s efforts to broker a normalisation agreement between Israel and the Saudis. “But does the whole atmosphere get tainted by all the stuff? Absolutely. I would be singularly focused on doing absolutely nothing that would prevent the Saudi deal from getting done, but they have not been able to do that.”

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