Lapid and Blinken to meet in Jerusalem, then head south for ‘Negev Summit’

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken  (right) greets Foreign Minister Yair Lapid ahead of their meeting in Rome, on June 27, 2021. (Andrew Harnik/Pool/AFP)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (right) greets Foreign Minister Yair Lapid ahead of their meeting in Rome, on June 27, 2021. (Andrew Harnik/Pool/AFP)

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid will host his counterparts from the US, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Egypt today, in a historic summit highlighting the shifting political landscape in the Middle East.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Israel last night and arrived in Jerusalem, where he will meet with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.

Blinken and Lapid will hold a joint press conference at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem this morning, before heading south for the so-called Negev Summit with Arab leaders in the Sde Boker kibbutz.

The summit at the Isrotel Kedma hotel will begin this afternoon. The diplomats will dine together at the hotel this evening.

The ministers will hold bilateral working meetings tomorrow.

The focus of the summit will be on regional threats, challenges, and opportunities. Among the issues expected to be at the center of the meetings are the Iran nuclear talks in Vienna, and the Russia-Ukraine war.

The UAE, Bahrain and Morocco normalized relations with Israel in 2020 as part of the US-brokered Abraham Accords.

The summit is seen as a display of diplomatic unity against Iran. It is also the latest indication that the Biden administration is determined to throw its weight by the Abraham Accords, which were brokered the Trump administration, while Israel was led by former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israel’s current government has also made strengthening the Abraham Accords a top priority.

Blinken will meet with other Israeli leaders and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during the trip.

Bennett visited Egypt last week for the first-ever trilateral summit with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and UAE Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan — another development likely made possible by the Abraham Accords.

Yesterday, Bennett condemned attacks by the Iran-backed Houthi rebels against Saudi Arabia, with which Israel does not have formal relations.

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