US lauds progress at Negev Forum, hopes Palestine, Jordan will join

US officials will brief the Jordanians and “those who are not here” about what was discussed and achieved “in the hopes that they may join in the future,” a senior State Department official told reporters.

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US officials on Tuesday lauded the progress made at this week’s Negev Forum, which brought together senior representatives from a handful of Arab countries and Israel.

But they also voiced hope that Jordan and Palestine would join future meetings following what they hope to be proof that the working groups can address their concerns.

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Around 150 officials from Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates attended the American-led summit, which the Biden administration created as it looks to continue the progress made by the Trump administration on peace efforts between Israel and its neighbors.

Working groups have been formed that will cover regional security, clean energy, food and water security, health, tourism, and education and coexistence.

And although the above countries have normalized ties with Israel, along with Jordan, Amman refuses to participate in the forum as long as the Palestinians are omitted.

Palestine said it would not participate under the current conditions despite efforts by US President Joe Biden to convince Ramallah to join.

Biden administration officials have tried to allay these concerns by stressing that one of the goals is to strengthen the Palestinian economy and improve the quality of life of Palestinians.

Asked about Jordan’s continued absence from the forum, a senior State Department official said the outcomes of this week’s meetings should prove that the attendees are taking into account the interests of Palestinians.

US officials will brief the Jordanians and “those who are not here” about what was discussed and achieved “in the hopes that they may join in the future,” Counselor of the Department of State Derek Chollet told reporters.

During the call, officials were asked about the social impact of establishing ties between Israel and the Arab world.

Another US official pointed to the expanding trade and economic relationships as well as people-to-people ties.

These include direct airline flights, cultural research and academic exchanges and tourism, said Senior Official for the Bureau of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Liz Allen.

“And no doubt these initiatives have helped make the lives of people across these countries more peaceful, more profit, more vibrant and more integrated,” Allen said.

Read more: US plans new Israel-Arab meeting, hopes for Netanyahu restraint

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