Negev Summit leads to discussion and opportunities for future summits

Lillian Newton, Staff Writer

The Negev Summit, an Israeli-hosted summit conducted with Arab partners and diplomats from the U.S., officially concluded on March 28. The summit acted as a show of unity against Iran, while also doubling as an opportunity to encourage Israel to reignite peacemaking discussions with the Palestinians.

The summit was a momentous occasion, being the first-ever multilateral Arab-Israeli summit on Israeli soil to occur. Diplomats and leaders are pictured at the event, shaking hands, smiling and taking photos together.

Their discussions took place over a two-day period and were located at a desert retreat, where Israel’s first Prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, is buried. These discussions were spurred on by the pending nuclear agreement with Iran and the war in Ukraine.

The summit itself focused on mutual worries over Iran and food shortages brought on by the war in Ukraine. In particular, food shortages are affecting countries such as Egypt and Morocco, as both representatives attended the discussion.

The 18-hour summit produced no solidified public results, but behind the curtains, there were a number of rumored successes. In particular, there were hints that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the U.S. were making diplomatic efforts, in contrast to weeks of growing tensions seen previously. The US had been frustrated with the UAE’s neutral response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, while UAE officials were upset with the United States’ perceived indifference to Iranian threats to Emirati security.

It also allowed for the five Middle Eastern states to collectively encourage the U.S. to remain engaged with the region, even with a focus on China and Russia. Furthermore, the summit allowed the Arab countries to deepen their coordination in areas such as security threats, intelligence gathering, food supplies and energy concerns, according to officials at the summit.

Israel said that this event will likely happen again in the future. The evolution of discussions comes alongside Israel’s buildup of commercial and security ties with a number of like-minded Sunni Arab States.

Alongside counterparts from the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco, Egypt and the United States, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said, “Last night we decided to make the Negev Summit into a permanent forum.”

“We are today opening a door before all the peoples of the region, including the Palestinians, and offering them to replace the way of terror and destruction with a shared future of progress and success,” Lapid also said.

Many participants seemed very enthusiastic about the idea of holding another summit in the future, preferring to host it in a different location each year.

Lapid also said that the group was “making history,” and noted that the partnership was based on technology, religious tolerance, security and intelligence cooperation.

The event has helped to showcase Israel’s growing legitimacy in the Middle East, having previously been shunned for decades by regional leaders. It also indicated Israel’s ability to act as a middleman between the U.S. and other Arab countries.