Tuesday, 19 Jan 2021 - 6 of Shevat, 5781

King Mohammed VI ‘the main visionary’ in normalizing Morocco-Israel ties

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According to Israeli Mideast expert Ehud Yaari, the exchange of embassies between the two countries is going to be differed ‘’because the Moroccans want to see if the  Biden administration is bowing to pressure from important sectors in Washington to withdraw the Trump recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over the Western Sahara.’’

 

The heads of a joint Israeli-American delegation held high-level talks this week with Moroccan officials, including King Mohammed VI, as Israel and Morocco announced they would move to swiftly reopen diplomatic missions in each country.

Israeli National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat and Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser, traveled with a joint Israeli-American delegation to Rabat, aboard an El Al flight, the first commercial flight from Israel to Morocco, following the normalization of ties between the countries which was announced on December 10.

In an interview with i24news channel, Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita asserted that the “main visionary” in advancing the resumption of ties with Israel was King Mohammed VI.

“His majesty spoke with the US president and sent delegations to the US [in May 2018], not only to meet with the Americans, but also with the Israelis,” Bourita revealed. “Moroccan diplomacy’s main trait is that we work in full discretion. Morocco has never been a show-off.”

“Did I meet [Prime Minister] Binyamin Netanyahu in 2018? If Israel confirms it, we do not deny,” the Moroccan Foreign Minister said.

He noted that ‘’defending the Palestinian cause is not incompatible with normal relations with Israel.”

For instance, he added, “Moroccans living in Israel have never severed their ties with Morocco.”

Though the United States, which brokered the renewal of ties between Jerusalem and Rabat, anticipated that these normalized ties between two countries would develop full diplomatic ties, for now the relationship would remain at a slightly lower level. In place of embassies, the two planned to reopen liaison offices — Israel’s in Rabat, Morocco’s in Tel Aviv — which had been closed in 2002 when Morocco decided to call off the existing low-level ties between the two countries with the outbreak of the Second Intifada.

Morocco became the third Arab country to normalize ties with Israel, following the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in September. Sudan has also announced plans to normalize ties but has yet to sign any agreements.

In addition to the liaison offices, Israel and Morocco also signed other memorandums of understanding on topics including civil aviation, water resources, finance and visa requirements.

The United States and Morocco also signed two memoranda of understanding, with a promised U.S. investment of $4 billion in the country. Kushner also promised that the U.S. would open a consulate in Dakhla in Western Sahara. As part of the normalization agreement, the U.S. recognized Morocco’s claims over the disputed territory, which had been a decades-long goal of Morocco.

According to Israeli Mideast expert Ehud Yaari, the exchange of embassies between the two countries is going to be differed ‘’because the Moroccans want to see if the  Biden administration is bowing to pressure from important sectors in Washington to withdraw the Trump recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over the Western Sahara.’’

Mbarka Bouaida, a former Moroccan Minister who heads one of the country’s regions, told a webinar for journalists organized by Europe Israel Press Association, that the relations between her country and Israel ”have never stopped” despite a diplomatic pause in 2002. ”The restoration of relations with Israel will help find a political solution to the Mideast conflict. ”Morocco, with King Mohammed VI presiding the Al-Qods committee and its Jewish community, has an extremely positive role to play in the search of a peaceful, constructive and lasting solution for the Mideast conflict,” she said.

She called on the EU and other countries in the world ”to join the new wave of relations concluded between Morocco, the United States and Israel.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has invited King Mohammed VI to Israel, during a phone conversation.
Netanyahu said in a video posted on Facebook that he spoke on Friday with Morocco’s King Mohammed VI, and they concurred that a Moroccan delegation would travel to Israel this week. to advance diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Netanyahu said in a video posted on Facebook that he spoke on Friday with Morocco’s King Mohammed VI, and they concurred that a Moroccan delegation would travel to Israel to advance diplomatic relations between the two countries.

“We agreed that the Moroccan delegation will come here at the start of the week in order to advance it all,” said Netanyahu, adding that among the measures to be discussed were direct flights between the two countries and the establishment of embassies.

 

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