image Photo: Flash90, Reuters

New Israeli FM holds talks with US counterpart

United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen to congratulate him on his appointment.

By Erin Viner

Secretary Blinken underscored the uncompromising commitment of the US to the security and prosperity of the State of Israel, said statements issued by both nations.

The Foreign Minister and the Secretary of State also discussed the joint effort to expand the Abraham Accords normalization pacts brokered by the US  in 2020 between Israel with the United Arab Emirates , BahrainSudan and Morocco.

“Secretary Blinken discussed continued US efforts to advance mutual interests such as Israel’s further regional integration, including through the Negev Forum,” said a statement issued by State Department Spokesperson Ned Price.

Last March, Israel hosted the Emirati, Bahrain, Moroccan and Egyptian Foreign Ministers, along with the Secretary Blinken, for an event dubbed the Negev Summit.

Minister Cohen, who took office last week as part of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new coalition government, announced plans to attend this year’s summit slated to be hosted by Morocco this coming March. The directors-general of the respective foreign ministries of countries participating in the forum will hold talks in Abu Dhabi next week, he added.

“Expanding the accords to other countries is not a matter of ‘if’ but of ‘when’,” said the Israeli Foreign Minister, emphasizing that Israel’s ties with current partners had yielded $2.85 billion in 2022 trade and “a significant contribution to security (and) regional stability.”

Netanyahu, now in his sixth term, has expressed interest in establishing relations with Saudi Arabia, which shares Israel’s worries about Iran. Riyadh has so far held back from any prospective normalization with Jerusalem in the absence of progress in the Palestinian campaign for statehood.

Foreign Minister Cohen emphasized the great severity with which he viewed the controversial United Nations General Assembly call on the International Court of Justice (ICJ,) and also thanked the US for its leadership on the issue. Secretary Blinken reaffirmed the continued US commitment to a  Two-State Solution and opposition to policies that endanger its viability.

Other topics of discussion included shared bilateral challenges topped by the threat posed by Iran, including Jerusalem’s campaign to combat Tehran’s malign behavior.