Thu 29 Jun 2023 11:25 am - Jerusalem Time

Major drop in official Israeli visits to Arab countries since Netanyahu returned to power

Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported on Thursday that there has been a marked decline in visits by senior Israeli officials to Arab countries in light of the escalation in the occupied West Bank.

In the six months since Benjamin Netanyahu established his government, the number of visits by Israeli government officials to Arab countries has plummeted, in comparison with the previous government led by Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid.

Netanyahu has only visited one Arab country, Jordan. Bennett, meanwhile, visited the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Egypt over the same timescale. Bennett's visit to the UAE was the first of its kind for an Israeli prime minister, while his visit to Egypt was the first in a decade.

The current Israeli Foreign Minister, Eli Cohen, made his first in office to Sudan, and has since visited other Islamic countries such as Turkey, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan, but has not made an official visits to any Arab country. 

This contrasts with his predecessor, Yair Lapid, who visited the UAE, Bahrain, Jordan, Egypt and Morocco. His trip Bahrain was the first official visit by an Israeli minister to a country that signed a normalization deal with Israel in 2020.

Former Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz also visited Morocco and Bahrain during the first six months of the previous government's term, while the current minister, Yoav Gallant, has not visited any of the Arab countries since he assumed office, though he has met with ministers from Bahrain and the UAE on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, which took place. held last February.

Last week, Morocco announced that it would postpone the convening of the Negev Forum - an annual meeting between Israel and Arab states - in response to Israeli construction in the settlements.

Haaretz pointed out that the deteriorating situation with Palestinians has cast a shadow over Israel's relations with the Arab countries, which directly prompted Netanyahu to postpone his visit several times.


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Major drop in official Israeli visits to Arab countries since Netanyahu returned to power