Rabat – Israel appears to be setting up the repeatedly postponed Negev summit as a condition for its potential position change regarding the Western Sahara dispute.

Reuters reported today that Israel is linking its “pending decision” on recognizing Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara to Rabat committing to host the postponed forum.

The news comes nearly a month after Knesset speaker Amir Ohana urged Israel to recognize Morocco’s territorial integrity and sovereignty over its southern provinces in the Western Sahara region.

The Knesset speaker made his remarks last month during his first visit to Morocco.

“As a native of this land [Morocco], I openly declare that Israel must recognize the Moroccanness of the Sahara,” Ohana said, adding that a “serious discussion” and consultations are underway within the Israeli government on the matter.

He also suggested that Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu was considering announcing a decision on the matter in the coming months, adding that Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara is backed up by historical facts.

Earlier today, Reuters quoted Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen as telling reporters that the Israeli government is now working “in regards to this issue and our plan is to have our final decision in the Negev forum.”

The Israel FM is also expecting the summit to take place in September.

Morocco confirmed the postponement of the Negev summit on June 23, attributing the delay to an unfavorable political context amid the escalation in Israeli-Palestinian tensions.

In fact, Morocco’s statement came a few days after Israel’s government announced settlement expansion plans in the occupied West Bank in Palestine.

“Morocco is following the concerning situation that the occupied Palestinian territories are witnessing closely,” Morocco’s Foreign Affairs Minister Nasser Bourita said, adding that reports of the deteriorating situation in occupied Palestinian territories come amid already heated regional tensions.

The Moroccan official also reiterated Morocco’s rejection of similar provocative attacks, emphasizing that dialogue is the only solution to end the Palestine-Israel dispute. Yet he emphasized that Morocco is still ready to host the event in the next season, provided that tensions and provocations cease in the occupied Palestinian territories.

While the Negev summit is supposed to foster Israeli-Arab cooperation and dialogue, argued the top Moroccan diplomat, the provocative and unilateral action taken by radicals on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian divide, especially on the Israeli side, have undermined the prospects of regional peace and genuine de-escalation dialogue.

Source: Morocco World News

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