Report: Israel escalations in West Bank cast shadow on ties with Arab world

Middle East Monitor  /  June 30, 2023

Israeli escalations in the occupied West Bank have cast a shadow over the occupation state’s relations with the Arab world, leading to a significant drop in the number of visits by senior Israeli officials to Arab countries, Haaretz newspaper reported.

According to the paper, since taking office as prime minister about six months ago, Benjamin Netanyahu has only visited Jordan, compared to Naftali Bennett, who visited the UAE, Jordan and Egypt during the same period.

Bennett’s visit to the UAE was the first of its kind by an Israeli prime minister, while his visit to Egypt was the first in a decade, the paper said.

At the beginning of his term, the incumbent Israeli Foreign Minister, Eli Cohen, visited Sudan for the first time, and has since visited other Islamic countries such as Turkiye, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan, however, he did not make an official visit to any Arab country. Meanwhile, when Yair Lapid was foreign minister in the previous government, he visited the UAE, Bahrain, Jordan, Egypt and Morocco. His visit to Bahrain was the first official visit by an Israeli minister to the country.

Former Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz 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 Arab countries since taking office, but he met with ministers from Bahrain and the UAE on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, held last February.

Morocco, the Arab country visited by most of the Israeli ministers since they took office, announced last week the postponement of the Negev Forum in response to increased Israeli construction in illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.