Due to recent Israeli declarations about the growth of Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria, the Moroccan government has abandoned preparations to host the Negev Forum next month.
Israeli and American sources told the Times of Israel on Tuesday that Rabat had made its decision.
In an effort to build on the Abraham Accords normalization accords, it would have been the second meeting of foreign ministers from Israel, Morocco, the United States, Bahrain, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates.
Following the March 2022 debut event in southern Israel, the steering committee has met three times since then: in Bahrain in June 2022, virtually in October 2022, and in Abu Dhabi in January 2023.
The government of Morocco first scheduled the event for March, but it was delayed four times before being totally abandoned.
According to the U.S. official, a date was “pretty locked up” for mid-July but was not yet finalized.
The meeting was interrupted, the person claimed, by two announcements involving Israeli villages in Judea and Samaria. Bezalel Smotrich, Israel’s finance minister, revealed on Sunday that more than 4,500 additional housing units for those living in Judea and Samaria had been approved.
A few hours later, the Israeli cabinet of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyayu adopted a resolution giving Smotrich complete authority over the planning clearance process for Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria. Smotrich, the head of the Religious Zionism party, also serves as a minister in the Defense Ministry.
The legislation also streamlines the process for growing existing Israeli settlements and retrospectively legalizes a few Judea and Samaria outposts.
The U.S. official stated that the growth of Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria “taints the atmosphere” surrounding the Biden administration’s efforts to broker a diplomatic accord between Israel and Saudi Arabia.
“I would be singularly focused on doing absolutely nothing that would prevent the Saudi deal from getting done, but they haven’t been able to do that,” the person declared.