Rabat reportedly made the decision in response to Israeli announcements on expanding communities in Judea and Samaria.
The Moroccan government has canceled plans to host the Negev Forum next month over recent Israeli announcements regarding the expansion of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.
U.S. and Israeli officials confirmed Rabat’s decision to the Times of Israel on Tuesday.
It would have been the second gathering of foreign ministers from Israel, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt and the United States in the spirit of building upon the Abraham Accords normalization agreements. The inaugural event was held in southern Israel in March 2022, and since then three steering committee meetings have taken place—in June 2022 in Bahrain, a virtual meeting in October 2022 and in Abu Dhabi in January 2023.
The Morocco event was originally planned for March, but the government postponed it four times, before canceling it completely. The U.S. official said that a date was not finalized but was “pretty locked up” for mid-July.
According to the official, two announcements regarding Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria had derailed the summit.
On Sunday, Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich announced the approval of over 4,500 new housing units for residents of Judea and Samaria. Hours later, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyayu’s government passed a resolution handing Smotrich full control over planning approval for Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria.
Leader of the Religious Zionism party, Smotrich holds a secondary position of minister in the Defense Ministry.
The resolution also removes red tape for expanding existing Israeli communities and retroactively legalizes some outposts in Judea and Samaria.
Expanding Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria “taints the atmosphere” around the Biden administration’s efforts to forge a diplomatic agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia, the U.S. official added.
“I would be singularly focused on doing absolutely nothing that would prevent the Saudi deal from getting done, but they haven’t been able to do that,” the official said.
Source: JNS News