After meeting for the Negev Summit, Bahrain s Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayani, left, Egypt s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, Israel s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Morocco s Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita, and United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, pose for a photograph Monday, March 28, 2022, in Sde Boker, Israel. AP
“Of course, we do so in collaboration and with the assistance of our partners in the US,” the minister said in a joint press conference in Israel’s Negev following a summit with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the foreign ministers of Israel, Morocco, the UAE, and Bahrain.
The summit, which ran from 27 to 28 March, during which they discussed key issues, including Iran and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
During the presser, Shoukry highlighted the importance of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process as well as the importance of maintaining the credibility and viability of the two-state solution that allows the Israeli and Palestinian states to live side by side in peace.
He also affirmed Egypt’s longstanding stance of the need to establish a Palestinian state on the borders of 4 June 1967 with East Jerusalem as its capital.
In recent years, Egypt has been playing an active part in the efforts of the Munich quartet - which includes Germany, France, and Jordan - to jump start the Middle East peace process.
In a meeting in Munich last month, the quartet called for respecting the rights of Palestinians residing in the East Jerusalem neighbourhoods of Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan.
The quartet also called for refraining from all unilateral measures that undermine the two-state solution and the prospects of a just and lasting peace, including building new Israeli settlements and confiscating land and evicting Palestinians from their homes.
Constructive consultations, regular summit
Shoukry described the consultations between the parties in Negev as “constructive and in-depth,” saying that they addressed the various challenges that the region is facing as well as the turbulent regional and international conditions.
“The discussions have given us an opportunity to highlight views related to how we can further progress in achieving our common objectives,” he added.
The summit, which Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs Yair Lapid called “historic”, is the first to gather Israel with Abraham Accord countries alongside Egypt.
“This meeting is the first of its kind but not the last,” Lapid said during the presser, indicating that the conference will become a regular event until “common enemies,” especially Iran and its proxies, are deterred.
“What we are doing here is making history, building a new regional architecture based on progress, technology, religious tolerance, security, and intelligence cooperation,” Lapid said.
For his part, Blinken hailed the signing of the Abraham Accords between Israel and the Arab countries present, saying “just a few years ago, this gathering would have been impossible to imagine.”
The top Egyptian diplomat affirmed Egypt’s keenness to enhance areas of cooperation and interaction with Israel with the aim of benefitting regional and international peace and security.
“I think we have demonstrated our predictability, the dependence, and the longevity of our peace with Israel and that we are partners that can be depended on,” Shoukry said, affirming Egypt’s keenness to continue this dialogue.
“We see constructive developments in the normalisation of relations and believe that the path that we put ourselves on 43 years ago is [moving towards] greater… recognition of the importance and the viability of comprehensive peace and security for the region,” the Egyptian FM said.
In 1979, the US brokered a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, making Egypt the first Arab country to recognise Israel.
Shourky also warned against practices of extra-regional interference in the affairs of other countries and their impact on security and stability in the region.
Moreover, he highlighted the importance of facing terrorism and extremist thought.
All the ministers in attendance condemned the killing of two Israeli police officers by two Arab gunmen in the northern Israeli city of Hadera on Sunday, which was claimed by ISIS.
“On every occasion, we have condemned any acts of violence, terrorism, and incitement, and believe it is our role as members of the international community and also as Arab states — where there are a Muslim majority — to address the religious narrative and to confront terrorism and extremism and thereby provide peace and security for our region,” Shoukry said.
“We believe we have the resources and ability to meet these challenges with the help of our partners in the US and we will continue to seek areas of cooperation that provide for our protection of our national security interests within a peaceful and cooperative framework,” he added.
The FM also stressed the need to avoid any unilateral decisions that “might agitate the current situation and have an impact on tranquility during this very sensitive and important time.”
Egypt has opposed previous unilateral decisions by Israel, including the construction of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Band and the move to annex Jerusalem, saying such actions only hamper the chances of reaching a just solution to the Palestinian cause and an end to conflict in the Middle East.
The summit comes amid Israeli and some Arab countries’ concerns regarding Iran’s nuclear programme and interference in internal Arab affairs across the region.
It also comes at a time the US, EU, and Iran have been discussing reviving the 2015 landmark nuclear deal, which was nixed by former President Donald Trump.
Egypt has always maintained of stance of calling for a Middle East free of nuclear weapons.
In recent days, the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen have also stepped up their military attacks against infrastructure and civilian targets in Saudi Arabia.
Egypt has repeatedly expressed its full solidarity with Saudi Arabia against all terrorist attacks perpetrated by the Houthi rebels.
The country has also participated in a number of high-level summits with leaders of other countries in the last several days.
Last week, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi held a meeting in Sharm El-Sheikh with Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett where they discussed energy, market stability, and food security amid the Ukrainian crisis.