Negev Forum’s Steering Committee holds first meeting, outlines framework and structure

Ahram Online , Tuesday 28 Jun 2022

Senior officials from Egypt, Israel, Bahrain, the UAE, Morocco, and the US held the inaugural meeting of the Negev Forum’s Steering Committee on Monday in Bahrain to outline a framework document for the forum, setting out its objectives and structure — a joint statement of the forum’s six countries said.

Negev Forum Steering Committee
Director of Policy Planning Department at the UAE Foreign Ministry Abdulrahman Ali Alneyadi, US Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Yael Lempert, Director-general at Israel s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Alon Ushpiz, Undersecretary for international affairs at the Bahrain Foreign Ministry Sheikh Abdulla bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, Director-general of political affairs at Morocco s foreign ministry Ambassador Fouad Yazourh, and Deputy-assistant Foreign Minister for Egypt Minister s Office Affairs Mohamed Tharwat hold a joint press conference for the Negev Forum first Steering Committee meeting in the town of Zallaq, south of the Bahraini capital Manama on June 27, 2022. Photo: AFP


The forum, which was launched in Israel’s Negev in March by the foreign ministers of the six countries will have a four-part structure — the Foreign Ministers’ Ministerial, the Presidency, the Steering Committee, and the Working Groups.

The ministerial, which is expected to convene annually, is to be the principal governing body of the forum, with the statement also noting that Israel will continue to serve as president of the forum until the next ministerial gathering.

The exact purpose of the Presidency of the forum was not disclosed in the statement.

Meanwhile, the Steering Committee is tasked with coordinating the collective efforts of the members of the forum and “advancing a common vision for the region.”

As for the six Working Groups, they will be expected to meet regularly throughout the year to foster regional integration, cooperation, and benefit the peoples of the regions, including by advancing initiatives that strengthen the Palestinian economy and improve the quality of life of Palestinians.

The committee also discussed during the meeting the assignment of chairs for each of the six Working Groups, which are expected to regularly report their progress to it.

They may also, with the consensus of members, invite non-member participants to participate in specific initiatives “where their participation would deliver a direct benefit to the initiative’s stated goal,” the statement read.

Furthermore, the Working Groups will primarily focus on clean energy, education and coexistence, food and water security, 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 neighbours, showing what can be achieved by working together to overcome shared challenges,” the statement said.

“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.

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