Antony Blinken in Israel for a “historic” summit

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (left) greets his Bahraini counterpart, Abdullatif Ben Rashid Al-Zayani, at Sde Boker in Israel's Negev desert on March 27, 2022.

The foreign ministers of the United Arab Emirates, Morocco and Bahrain, three countries that signed the Abraham Accords in 2020, and the head of Egyptian diplomacy traveled to Sde Boker, in Israel’s Negev desert, on Sunday, March 27. for a summit. meeting with their American and Israeli counterparts. The participants arrived drop by drop with their delegations, often by helicopter. A dinner was organized and work sessions took place the following morning. A joint statement was to be issued Monday evening.

This meeting is historic, and it is a real blow to Israel: It is the first time the Jewish state can boast of having welcomed four members of the Arab League at the same time at home. Everything is symbolic in this gathering, however rushed. The place, first: Sde Boker is one of the last operating kibbutz in the country, partly thanks to the income from tourism. It is best known for having been David Ben-Gurion’s main residence for the last twenty years of his life. Sde Boker is at the center of the vision of the father of the Jewish state: that of a thriving desert, a vibrant, optimistic, unifying Zionism, not one that cannot choose between occupation and annexation of the West Bank.

Then there’s the date, March 27. This comes exactly twenty years after the signing in Beirut of the Arab League peace initiative. This roadmap, adopted by the Palestinians, proposed the normalization of relations with Israel in exchange for a two-state solution and the right of return for refugees. This summit is therefore a blunt, perhaps involuntary, for Arab solidarity on which the Palestinians have relied heavily to advance their cause.

Iran’s nuclear

This summit took place as negotiations aimed at reviving the Iranian nuclear deal, then buried by Donald Trump, progress. In 2015, when the original compromise was signed, then-Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu went out of his way to torpedo it, arguing it posed an existential threat to the Jewish state. His successors are more pragmatic: they are aware of the negative impact this has had on relations with the Obama administration and do not want to repeat the exercise. More importantly, perhaps, the Israeli leadership has become aware that Iran has moved closer to the nuclear threshold since the United States left the agreement.

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