Morocco is paying a central role in helping Israel expand its ‘normalisation’ beyond the present four Arab countries with a summit planned to be held in the Kingdom in March, likely to spark fresh demonstrations in the Moroccan capital by angry Moroccans who are uneasy about their own country supporting Israel’s human rights abuses against Palestinians.
There are few details about the conference, which Israel hopes might push other Arab countries like Saudi Arabia to join the ‘gang of four’, but Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said on December 2nd that he planned to attend it with “counterparts from Arab countries that have drawn closer to Israel following a US-sponsored diplomatic drive in 2020” according to Reuters.
Cohen, (below) who took office in the last days of December as part of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new hard-right coalition government, said the summit would be hosted by Morocco, according to a Foreign Ministry statement, although it is likely that the conference itself will be managed by Israeli officials.
The statement did not name other countries. Israel has in the past cited Morocco, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan as belonging to the normalisation agreements dubbed the “Abraham Accords”.
Yet it’s hard to imagine how such a PR stunt in Morocco aimed at luring countries like Saudi Arabia will be successful with a backdrop of continued atrocities and illegal land grabs carried out against Palestinians, an ICC court in the Hague poised to investigate illegal annexations and even the likelihood of a new intifada kicking off in Gaza before the conference in March.
“Expanding the accords to other countries is not a matter of ‘if’ but of ‘when’,” insists Cohen, adding that Israel’s ties with current partners had yielded $2.85 billion in 2022 trade and “a significant contribution to security (and) regional stability.”
Improved regional security may be hard line to stick to if Israel kicks off a new series of air strikes in the Gaza strip with an ICC investigation in full swing though. And given that Saudi Arabia takes a very hard line approach to human rights abuses of the Palestinians, many will argue that Israel’s aim to expanding the pack beyond the present four Arab countries is wishful thinking, especially given that its current members voted in the UN for ICC intervention against Israel’s illegal activities.