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Morocco cancels Negev summit with Israel over settlement expansion

The Israeli government's decision to place settlement construction authorization in the hands of Finance Minister and Deputy Defense Minister Bezalel Smotrich left Morocco with little choice but to cancel the Negev Forum meeting.

An Israeli diplomatic source confirmed to Al-Monitor on Wednesday that Morocco has decided to cancel its plans to host the second Negev Forum ministerial meeting in July after Israel took action to expand West Bank settlements.

Axios and The Times of Israel broke the story, citing unnamed American and Israeli officials. Neither the United States nor Morocco had officially reacted as of the time of this writing.

The Negev Forum was initiated on March 2022, by then-Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, to create a platform for regional cooperation in the fields of health, economy, climate change, water and security. It brought together the foreign ministers of Israel, the United States, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Egypt. Jordan declined to join the group. The forum was named after its initial meeting place in Israel’s southern Negev region. 

Since then, the forum's steering committee has met three times: in Bahrain last June, virtually in October and last January in Abu Dhabi. There have also been meetings by working groups.

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