Moroccan FM: Israel must be involved and not a foreigner in the Middle East

Israel must be part of a new order in the Middle East linked both by regional opportunities and the need to tackle common threats, Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita said on Friday at a landmark virtual event the anniversary of the Abrahamic accords.

“There is a need for a new regional order where Israel is a stakeholder and no longer a stranger in its own region,” Bourita said at the event hosted by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

“This new regional order should not be seen as against someone but rather to benefit us all,” he said.

“Also, this new regional order should be founded [not only] on an updated common threat assessment, but also on how to generate opportunities that promote stability and development for all.

The event with officials from the United States, Israel, Morocco, Bahrain and Emirati took place two days after September 15, 2020, the anniversary of the ceremony at the White House that launched the Abrahamic Accords and allowed Arab states to normalize their relations with Israel.

Prior to the accords, Israel only had diplomatic relations with Egypt, with which it signed a peace treaty in 1979, and Jordan, with which an agreement was concluded in 1994.

Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al Zayani, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US President Donald Trump and United Arab Emirates (UAE) Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed participate in the signing of the Abrahamic Accords, normalizing relations between Israel and some of its countries in the Middle East (credit: REUTERS / TOM BRENNER)

In a sign of progress in a year, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid told ministers at Friday’s virtual event that he plans to visit Bahrain later this month, in what would be the first ministerial visit of this type.

Lapid called on more Arab countries to join the agreements, which he said were “open to new members.” He added that “our common goal is to get other countries to follow suit and join us,” Lapid said.

“We are going to make it an increasingly important event and an increasingly important initiative for peace in the region,” he added.

The deals have led to dozens of deals and “we have over $ 650 million in direct trade,” Lapid said. “We are going to devote the next two years to the strategic advancement of infrastructure, mainly water, energy, security, food, connectivity, and all of this will happen at the regional level,” Lapid said.

Blinken said the Biden administration supports Abraham’s accords and will encourage others to join him.

“This administration will continue to build on the successful efforts of the last administration to advance standardization,” Blinken said.

This will include helping strengthen Israel’s nascent ties with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan, Lapid said. He also spoke of supporting Kosovo’s new ties with Israel, even if the country is not part of the agreements.

The United States will also work to “deepen Israel’s long-standing relations with Egypt and Jordan,” Blinken said.

“We will encourage more countries to follow the example of the Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco. We want to widen the circle of peaceful diplomacy because it is in the interest of the countries of the region and the whole world that Israel be treated. like any other country, ”Blinken said.

The secretary of state and the three Arab officials spoke of the importance of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Lapid only mentioned the Palestinians to encourage support for his economic plan for Gaza.

Blinken called for building on “this normalization to bring tangible improvements in the lives of Palestinians and to move towards the long-standing goal of advancing a negotiated peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”

Bourita said his country wanted to help facilitate a peace process.

“Morocco has always played an important, yet discreet role in facilitating peace in the past, and is ready to continue this role today,” said Bourita.

His country, Bouria explained, believes that there is no other alternative to a two-state solution with an independent Palestinian state within the borders of June 67. ”

“The status of Jerusalem must be preserved as a common heritage of humanity, as a symbol of the peaceful coexistence of the followers of the three monotheistic religions,” Bourita added.

Regarding the agreements, Bourita said it was important to actively promote and publicize the benefits of the agreements as a way to highlight for the region the positive benefits that can be brought by ties with Israel.

“We must actively and constantly demonstrate the benefits on regional peace and security, on people-to-people relationships, on business opportunities. These are the best arguments for other countries to follow suit, ”said Bourita.

Bahraini Foreign Minister Al Zayani said: “We must demonstrate what genuine regional peace, interdependence and prosperity can mean in practice for the daily lives of all people in the Middle East.

Emirati presidential adviser Anwar Gargash said he believed the agreements broke a psychological barrier that could now make it easier for others to join.

Earlier today, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said: “These unprecedented agreements open a new chapter in the history of peace in the Middle East.

He thanked the Emirati and Bahraini leaders for “the courage and daring which allowed the establishment of diplomatic relations, and the American administration which tirelessly directed, supported and publicized the success of this achievement”.

Bennett added: “Relations between countries are still in their infancy and are already bearing fruit. The Government of Israel, under my leadership, will continue to implement the agreements while striving for a stable, secure and prosperous Middle East for the future of our children.

The Blinken event took place 43 years after former Prime Minister Menachem Begin and former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat signed the Camp David Accords in 1978 under the auspices of US President Jimmy Carter. It was the preliminary document of what would become the Israeli-Egyptian peace agreement of 1979.

President Isaac Herzog phoned Carter on Friday to thank him for negotiating what was the world’s first Arab-Israeli peace deal.

He said this revolutionary step saved lives in the Middle East and paved the way for the Jordan Accord and Abraham’s Accord.

“You did something really sacred: it was the first peace agreement between Israel and an Arab state, which led to the agreements we had last year with the Gulf states,” Herzog said. .

He also congratulated Carter ahead of his 97th birthday on October 1.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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