The summit of Arab diplomats on March 27-28 hosted by Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid in the southern Negev Desert is doubtless a landmark event. The UAE’s Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Bahrain’s Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, Morocco’s Nasser Bourita, and Egypt’s Sameh Shoukry are the Arab participants, while the visiting US Secretary of State Antony Blinken becomes the sole “extra-regional” participant. The expectation that more West Asian countries would join the Abraham Accords failed to materialise, but the security and military ties between Israel, UAE, Bahrain — and Saudi Arabia behind the curtain — have deepened. Egypt also joins the nascent partnership.
There is much symbolism surrounding the venue of the Arab-Israeli summit: Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, lived at Sde Boker and he is buried there, overlooking the Zin wilderness. Lapid hopes to take his guests to visit the gravesite. To be sure, wherever Blinken goes, the agenda would include Ukraine conflict and he is sure to make a pitch for isolating Russia and urge his Arab interlocutors to join Western efforts in support of Ukraine, but it has had limited success even with his Israeli hosts, much less so with the US’ Arab allies.
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