Monday, December 11, 2023

Israel and Morocco agree to normalize relations in US-brokered deal | Middle East

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Under this agreement, Morocco will establish full diplomatic relations and resume official contacts with Israel.

Israel and Morocco agreed on Thursday to normalize their relations in a deal negotiated with the help of the United States, making Morocco the fourth Arab country to put aside hostilities with Israel in the past four months.

As part of the deal, US President Donald Trump agreed to recognize Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara, where there has been a decades-old territorial dispute with Morocco opposing the Algerian-backed Polisario Front. , a separatist movement that seeks to establish an independent country. State of the territory.

Trump sealed the deal in a phone call Thursday with King Mohammed VI of Morocco, a senior US official said.

Morocco is the fourth country since August to conclude an agreement aimed at normalizing relations with Israel. The others were the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan.

Palestinians have criticized the normalization agreements, saying Arab countries have rolled back the cause of peace by abandoning a long-standing demand that Israel give up land for a Palestinian state before it can be recognized.

“Not a realistic option”

Under the agreement, Morocco will establish full diplomatic relations and resume official contacts with Israel, grant overflights and direct flights to and from Israel for all Israelis.

“They will immediately reopen their liaison offices in Rabat and Tel Aviv with the intention of opening embassies. And they will promote economic cooperation between Israeli and Moroccan companies, ”White House senior adviser Jared Kushner told reporters.

The United States will also recognize Morocco’s claim to Western Sahara, Spain’s former territory in North Africa that has been a long-standing dispute that has confused international negotiators for decades, a House statement said. White.

“The United States believes that an independent Sahrawi state is not a realistic option for resolving the conflict and that genuine autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty is the only feasible solution,” he declared.

“We urge the parties to engage in discussions without delay, using Morocco’s autonomy plan as the only framework to negotiate a mutually acceptable solution.”

Morocco, a country with centuries of Jewish history, would have long been willing to establish ties with Israel.

Prior to the establishment of Israel in 1948, Morocco was home to a large Jewish population, many of whose ancestors migrated to North Africa from Spain and Portugal during the Spanish Inquisition.

Today, hundreds of thousands of Israeli Jews trace their lineage to Morocco, making it one of the largest sectors of Israeli society in the country, and a small community of Jews, estimated at several thousand, continues to live in Morocco.

The North African country has enjoyed informal relations with Israel for years.

Israel and Morocco established low-level diplomatic relations during the 1990s following Israel’s interim peace agreements with the Palestinians, but those ties were suspended after the outbreak of the second Palestinian uprising in 2000.

Since then, however, informal ties have continued, and around 50,000 Israelis travel to Morocco each year to learn more about the Jewish community and trace their family history.


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