Israel, U.S., Egypt, Bahrain, Morocco and the UAE cite “important opportunities unlocked by improved relations.”
High-level officials from nations that came together in March in Sde Boker, Israel to hold the inaugural Negev Summit concluded their inaugural meeting of the Negev Forum Steering Committee on Monday.
According to a joint press release from the governments involved—which include the United States, Israel, Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates—the Steering Committee was outlined in a framework document during the original summit. It is to meet regularly to “further coordinate our collective efforts and advance a common vision for the region.”
The Committee, which met in Manama, Bahrain, discussed assigning chairs for each of its six Working Groups, which will meet regularly throughout the year to advance initiatives. These include encouraging regional integration cooperation and development for the benefit of people in the region, as well as improving the economic well-being and quality of life for Palestinians who are not members of the forum.
Topics assigned to Working Groups include clean energy, education and coexistence, food and water, health, regional security and tourism.
“This meeting demonstrates the strength of our relations, our shared commitment to cooperation and the important opportunities unlocked by improved relations between Israel and its neighbors, showing what can be achieved by working together to overcome shared challenges,” the release stated.
“The participants also affirmed that these relations can be harnessed to create momentum in Israeli-Palestinian relations, towards a negotiated resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and as part of efforts to achieve a just, lasting and comprehensive peace,” it added.
The Steering Committee is one part of a four-part structure outlined in the framework document. The other parts of the structure include the Foreign Ministers’ Ministerial, the Presidency and the Working Groups.
The Foreign Ministers’ Ministerial is expected to convene annually and will be the principal governing body of the forum, according to the statement.
Israel currently serves as Negev Forum president until the next ministerial meeting later this year, which will be preceded by another Steering Committee meeting in Israel.