Dec 5, 2022 - World

Experts from Israel and 6 Arab countries head to Morocco to discuss coexistence

Representatives from Israel and several Arab countries meet for the Negev forum steering committee meeting in Bahrain on  June 27.

Representatives from Israel and several Arab countries meet for the Negev forum steering committee meeting in Bahrain on June 27. Photo: Mazan Mahdi/AFP via Getty Images

Government officials, scholars and policy experts from Israel and more than six Arab countries are convening in Morocco on Monday for a three-day meeting on education, coexistence and people-to-people ties in the region.

Why it matters: The conference, which is organized as part of the Atlantic Council and the Jeffrey M. Talpins Foundation N7 initiative, aims to come up with ideas and practical proposals for regional government projects.

Flashback: The N7 conference was first convened last year in Abu Dhabi with ministers from Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco, Sudan, Egypt and Jordan.

  • The idea was to give backing to the Abraham Accords and create another forum for engagement between Israel and countries in the region.

Driving the news: William Wechsler, the senior director for Middle East Programs at the Atlantic Council, told Axios the conference, which will take place Dec. 5-7 in Rabat, will focus on practical ideas and projects like building platforms for regional student and youth exchanges and increasing religious tolerance.

Behind the scenes: Sources involved in the conference told Axios that experts from Arab and Muslim countries that are not part of the Abraham Accords and don’t have diplomatic relations with Israel will attend as observers.

  • U.S. ambassador to Morocco Puneet Talwar, as well as Andre Azoulay, counselor to Moroccan King Mohammed V, are expected to speak at the conference, the sources said.
  • According to the sources, the Israeli delegation to the conference includes former minister Tzahi Hanegbi from Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party.
  • Palestinian representatives are also expected to participate.

What to watch: Wechsler said the organizers hope the ideas and recommendations from the conference in Morocco could be used by the governments that are part of the Negev forum, which includes the U.S.

  • The Negev forum working groups are expected to meet in Abu Dhabi in January. “People in the region need to see the benefits of the normalization process," Wechsler said.

What they're saying: “Education and coexistence are important for the normalization process so that young people in the region will be able to work together," Oren Eisner the president of the Jeffrey M. Talpins Foundation told Axios.

  • Eisner stressed that the goal is to draft ideas and proposals for actionable policies that governments in the region can use and implement.
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