January 13, 2023 | Flash Brief

Israel and Arab Allies Conclude Negev Forum Without Jordan

January 13, 2023 | Flash Brief

Israel and Arab Allies Conclude Negev Forum Without Jordan

Latest Developments 

Senior officials from the United States, Israel, Bahrain, Morocco, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) wrapped up two days of meetings on Tuesday as part of the Negev Forum in Abu Dhabi. Though invited to participate, Jordan, which has largely had a warm peace with Israel for nearly two decades, refused to participate without the Palestinians present at the forum. This occurs among signs of increasing tensions between Jerusalem and Amman.

Expert Analysis

“Jordan’s absence from the Negev summit is a symptom of a larger problem that has yet to be properly diagnosed in Washington. Jordan is an ambivalent peace partner, at best. And it appears to reject the new regional order brought about by the Abraham Accords. The Biden administration cannot let this go unchecked. Jordan is a crucial component of the regional peace puzzle.”Jonathan Schanzer, FDD Senior Vice President for Research

Continuing Normalization

During the Negev Forum, more than 150 sub-ministerial-level officials joined six working groups on regional security, clean energy, food and water security, health, tourism, and education and coexistence. The groups aimed to promote joint regional initiatives to benefit the region’s population. The forum also included a meeting of the Negev Forum Steering Committee to plan a ministerial-level summit in Morocco in the spring.

From Peace to Diplomatic Deep Freeze

Created during a ministerial-level summit in Sde Boker, Israel, in March 2022, the Negev Forum is a product of the 2020 Abraham Accords between Israel and key Arab states. Until then, only Egypt (in 1979) and Jordan (in 1994) had normalized relations with Israel. After decades of what was often described as “warm peace” with Israel, Jordanian leaders and officials have increasingly engaged in anti-Israel rhetoric in recent years.

In a speech before the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in 2016, Jordan’s King Abdullah II blamed the lack of diplomatic progress between Israel and the Palestinians entirely on the Jewish state. In 2017, a Jordanian spokesperson said that moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem was a “red line” and would have “catastrophic” consequences. Jordan effectively sided with Hamas during the May 2021 conflict with Israel by echoing the terrorist group’s talking points that wrongly blamed Israeli security forces on the Temple Mount for sparking the conflict. And during his 2022 speech to the UNGA, King Abdullah accused Israelis of threatening Christian holy sites in Jerusalem with little proof to substantiate such a claim.

Jordan May Reap Benefits from Cooperation 

The successful continuation of Negev Forum meetings is a good omen for further cooperation between the United States, Israel, and their Abraham Accords counterparts. But the meetings will need to produce tangible outcomes if Jordan is to be convinced to join. Jordan shouldn’t need convincing, though. The United States provides Jordan with weapons systems, financial assistance, and military training. Israel provides gas, water, intelligence, and other support. Washington should pressure Amman to resume positive relations with Israel and embrace its role in the new regional order.

Further Analysis

Neither Here Nor There: Jordan and the Abraham Accords,” by Jonathan Schanzer

“‘Warmer’ Peace with Israel Offers Jordan Better Economic Dividends,” by Hussain Abdul-Hussain and Enia Krivine


Arab Politics Israel Palestinian Politics