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Israeli, US diplomats discuss Negev Forum in Washington

Hailed by both nations as “productive,” the meeting comes just days after Israel was asked to change the framework’s name to something “less Israeli.”

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman meets with Israeli Foreign Ministry Director General Ronen Levy in Washington, D.C., on May 17, 2023. Photo by Freddie Everett/U.S. State Department.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman meets with Israeli Foreign Ministry Director General Ronen Levy in Washington, D.C., on May 17, 2023. Photo by Freddie Everett/U.S. State Department.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman met in Washington on Wednesday with Ronen Levi, the director-general of Israel’s Foreign Ministry.

During the meeting, which was closed to the press, the two diplomats discussed “a range of global issues, including opportunities to advance regional integration through the Negev Forum, recent developments in Sudan and Russia’s aggression in Ukraine,” according to U.S. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller.

The Negev Forum was founded in March 2022 at the Negev Summit in Kibbutz Sde Boker, as part of the implementation process of the Abraham Accords. Six working groups were established, to serve as a framework for increasing regional diplomatic and economic cooperation.

 

Israeli media reported on Monday that the United States has conveyed to Jerusalem a request by the other forum participants to change its name to something “less Israeli.” According to Channel 13, the countries making the request claim that a more general name will make it easier for additional countries to join.

That same day, Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid blasted the idea, stating that for Israel to accede to it would indicate that the current government “doesn’t understand what national pride is.”

During Wednesday’s meeting, Sherman reaffirmed Washington’s “ironclad support for Israel’s security and commitment to continued cooperation,” according to the State Department.

She also stressed the importance to Washington of “the Palestinian Authority taking additional steps to stabilize the situation in the West Bank” and its resolve to “remain engaged with Israel, the Palestinians and regional partners to promote calm in the months ahead, building upon the recent ceasefire in Israel and Gaza.”

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