Analysis: The summit allows Israel to flaunt military agreement with Morocco and showcase a united front with the Gulf against Tehran, despite chronic disagreements between all sides regarding the Palestinian issue

Despite efforts on Israel’s part, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Al-Safadi will not take part in Sunday’s five-way regional summit – attended by the foreign ministers of the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco, Egypt, and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Efforts to persuade Al-Safadi to join the summit were made last weekend, during King Abdullah II and the foreign minister’s visit to Ramallah – itself meant as a show of support for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

לפיד נפגש עם שר החוץ האמירתי
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid with Emirati Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, March 27 (Photo: AFP)


Israel has made the effort to include Jordan in the summit despite knowing full well Al-Safadi will seek to accentuate and emphasize the Palestinian issue during meetings – which Jerusalem prefers to sweep under the rug.

Nonetheless, this two-day regional summit – headed by Foreign Minister Yair Lapid – is an impressive display of power, all the more so considering it came mere days after Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met with Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Sisi and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan in Egypt.

Among other things, the summit may allow Blinken to attempt and fix Washington’s muddied relationship with both the UAE and Egypt – the latter of which is often slammed by U.S. President Joe Biden for its abundance of human rights issues.

לפיד נפגש עם שר החוץ הבחרייני והמצרי
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid with his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shoukry, March 27 (Photo: GPO)


The summit was also an opportunity for Israel to flaunt its new military cooperation agreements with Morocco – and for the principalities of the Gulf states – which “on paper” also represents Saudi Arabia – to show off their new, tightknit alliance.

First and foremost, however, the summit was an opportunity for all sides to discuss the Iranian nuclear program. Blinken represents Washington, which insists on removing Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and the Houthis in Yemen from its list of terrorist groups, in order to reach a nuclear agreement with Tehran.

Israel, on its part, made it clear that if an agreement is reached, it will allow itself to take action against Iran without coordinating with Washington.

Just like Israel, the principalities in the Gulf are also worried about the encroaching agreement.

לפיד נפגש עם שר החוץ הבחרייני והמצרי
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid with his Bahraini counterpart, Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, March 27 (Photo: GPO)


Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – who gave Bahrain the go-ahead to represent his kingdom in the summit – adopted Israel’s position on the issue after he tried and failed to broker several “agreements” with the Iranians.

And what about Benjamin Netanyahu? One cannot wonder about the summit and simply ignore the former premier who signed the Abraham Accords – which made the five-way meeting possible.

Netanyahu, on his part, has the right to brag that he is the one who weaved the burgeoning relationship with the Gulf, as well as with Egypt’s al-Sisi.

From the moment he lost the premier’s chair, however, the leaders of the Arab world deleted his number from their phones. Now, they are rushing forward with Bennett and Lapid’s Iran-busting policy.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (Photo: Reuters)


Another official who will not take part in the summit is Defense Minister Benny Gantz, whom diplomats from the Arab states talk with only when it comes to the Palestinian issue.

The Arab embassies in Israel have reported a rift between Bennett, Lapid and Gantz. Many are even expecting Gantz to jump on Netanyahu’s Likud bandwagon, sabotaging the current coalition.

The Arab world regards Gantz as a diplomatic figure who is much more willing to talk with Abbas and the Palestinians than either Bennett or Lapid.

That is why the Arab states are always taking Gantz into account when it comes to negotiations.

As reported by Ynetnews