U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken hosted an online summit Friday to mark the one-year anniversary of the signing of the Abraham Accords, attended by the foreign ministers of the signatories – Bahrain, Israel, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates.
The four countries discussed ways to deepen ties.
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This video conference was the main event by President Joe Biden's administration to mark the agreements, which were brokered by former President Donald Trump. The foreign minister of Sudan, which is also a signatory, did not attend the meeting.
During a press briefing on Wednesday, State Department spokesman Ned Price rejected claims that Blinken had arranged the meeting hurriedly in the past few days just as a matter of form.
Price praised the accords and their results. “One year later, we see over half a billion dollars in trade between Israel and these new partners and direct flights between Tel Aviv, Abu Dhabi, Marrakesh, and Manama, with huge implications for freedom of travel in the region,” he said, adding: “We continue to support these agreements and their signatories and we look forward to opportunities to further expand and advance cooperation between Israel and countries around the world.”
Price also addressed the subject of the Palestinians, saying that the administration’s base assumption is that no breakthrough-yielding negotiations between the sides are to be expected in the near future, noting that "I don't think you've heard us call for explicitly face-to-face negotiations at the present."
The State Department spokesman also addressed an interview by Israel’s Defense Minister, Benny Gantz, in which Gantz said that Israel could accept a return to the nuclear deal between Iran and several countries. Price made it clear that he leaves it to Israel to word its position regarding the agreement, but noted that “I think at a strategic level there is no doubt that we see eye to eye with our Israeli partners. Neither the United States nor Israel sees it as in our interests or anywhere near our interests to have Iran as a nuclear weapons state or a nuclear weapons threshold state, and so we are both committed to the idea that Iran should never be permitted and should forever be prevented from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”
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Israel signed a normalization agreement with the UAE and Bahrain at the White House last September. Later on, Sudan and Morocco also joined the accords, which include cooperation on a variety of civilian matters, and the mutual opening of diplomatic delegations.
On Friday, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said the agreements "are a new chapter in the history of peace in the Middle East" and thanked the leaders of the UAE and Bahrain for "courage and daring" in signing the agreements.