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Israel turns its back on French-Egyptian Mideast initiative

Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi rejected the invitation for meeting French, German, Egyptian and Jordanian foreign ministers in Cairo, citing the nationwide lockdown in Israel as an excuse.
Foreign Ministers of (L to R) Germany Heiko Maas, Jordan Ayman Safadi, Egypt Sameh Shoukry, and France Jean-Yves Le Drian, hold a joint press conference after a meeting to discuss the Middle East peace process, in the Egyptian capital Cairo, on January 11, 2021. (Photo by Khaled DESOUKI / AFP) (Photo by KHALED DESOUKI/AFP via Getty Images)

For Israel, the past few days have been full of diplomatic activity. On Jan. 5, the Foreign Ministry picked Ambassador Eytan Na’eh to head its future mission in Abu Dhabi. A few days later, the ministry picked former Ambassador David Govrin to head its future liaison office in Rabat. According to other reports, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi had met this past weekend with his Jordanian counterpart, Ayman Safadi. The discreet meeting had focused on promoting strategic interests, including issues pertaining to the security, economic and civil ties between the two countries. The two men had met last at the beginning of December. On Jan. 13, the Emirates announced that Israeli tourists could now enter the country without a pre-requested visa. On the very same day, Israeli and Moroccan representatives signed aviation agreements to establish direct flights between Rabat and Tel Aviv.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also been busy diplomatically. On Jan. 11, he participated in an international online forum with six other heads of states, exposing Israel’s relentless mass vaccination drive. The forum had been established last April, in the midst of the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic. The idea was for these countries to share their experiences in successfully battling the pandemic. The driving forces behind this forum were Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Netanyahu.  

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