FILE PHOTO-Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen talks during a news conference with Cyprus Foreign Minister Constantinos Kombos and Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias at the Presidential Palace in Nicosia, Cyprus March 31, 2023. REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou

Israel has reportedly made Morocco’s hosting of the controversial Negev Forum a condition for its recognition over the North African country’s sovereignty over the disputed the Western Sahara.

“We are right now working in regards to this issue, and our plan is to have our final decision in the Negev Forum,” Israel’s Foreign Minister Eli Cohen told media on 3 July in response to a question on what Israel would demand in response for its recognizing the disputed region.

The idea of the Negev Forum was conceived following a summit held in southern Israel in March last year, during which Tel Aviv hosted the leaders of the UAE, Bahrain, and Morocco – the three main signatories of 2020 Abraham Accords.

However, Morocco postponed its plans to host the controversial summit last month over continued human rights abuses by Israel against the Palestinians. Morocco had canceled an earlier meeting of the summit in February for similar reasons.

In exchange for normalizing relations with Tel Aviv in 2020, the US – under former president Donald Trump – recognized Moroccan sovereignty over the Western Sahara. Western Sahara is a former Spanish colony that, since 1975, has been the subject of a major territorial dispute between Rabat and the Algeria-backed guerilla movement, the Polisario Front.

Despite the move by Washington, Israel has yet to offer any recognition of Morrocan sovereignty over the disputed region. This has resulted in some tensions between the two states.

At the start of the year, it was reported that Morocco would not commit to a full opening of its embassy in Tel Aviv until Israel met its demands on the Western Sahara.

In February, an unnamed Morrocan official said that his country would not be willing to host the Negev Forum if tensions continued to rise in the occupied Palestinian territories.

At the time, Rabat was said to have adopted a “wait and see” approach to the matter. Since then, however, Israeli violence and oppression of the Palestinians have only surged.

Source: The Cradle

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