President Trump announced, Thursday, that Morocco has agreed to establish full diplomatic relations with Israel. The Moroccan decision comes within the framework of a deal that includes the United States’ recognition of the disputed territory of Western Sahara as part of Morocco.
why does it matter: Morocco is the fourth Arab country to move towards normalization with Israel in the past four months as part of the Trump administration’s initiative, the “Abraham Accords.” But the deal also includes a change in long-term US policy with only six weeks remaining in Trump’s term.
behind the scenes: Negotiations on this deal started two years ago but have intensified in the past few months. Trump’s senior adviser Jared Kushner and Special Envoy Avi Berkowitz negotiated directly with Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita.
- The Israeli government has encouraged the White House several times in the past three years to pursue this path, but talks over the past few months have included only the United States and Morocco.
- The White House has informed the Israeli government in recent weeks of a possible breakthrough.
the other side: While the normalization deal is a gain for Israel And an important achievement for Trump, the recognition of Western Sahara as part of Morocco is a major shift in US policy – and a major diplomatic achievement for Morocco.
- Western Sahara is a sparsely populated and contested region that borders Morocco in the northwestern corner of Africa.
- It was formerly controlled by Spain and now claimed by Morocco despite international opposition and fierce resistance from the indigenous population.
- Playing conditionA violent revolt that ended in 1991 after 16 years, but the matter remains unsolved. Several weeks ago, fighting broke out again between the Moroccan army and the Sahrawi rebels.
What’s Next: The United States is now the only Western country to recognize Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara. President-elect Biden will have to decide whether to reverse Trump’s decision after taking office in January.
- It will not be easy for Biden to take this step, because it may cause the collapse of the normalization process between Morocco and Israel.
Update: Kouchner said in a briefing to reporters that Morocco has agreed to resume official contacts with Israel, allow Israeli airlines to use Moroccan airspace, and start direct flights between the two countries.
- Kouchner said Morocco and Israel would foster deeper trade ties, open diplomatic liaison offices in Rabat and Tel Aviv, and later open embassies.
recovery: Israel and Morocco have a secret relationship that dates back to the 1960s through their intelligence services.
- In the late 1970s, Morocco mediated between Israel and Egypt to help them move towards a historic peace agreement.
- In the 1990s, after the Oslo Accords, Israel and Morocco established diplomatic relations and opened diplomatic missions in Tel Aviv and Rabat.
- In 1994, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres visited Morocco as guests of the late King Hassan II.
- But in 2000, After the second intifada, Morocco cut ties with Israel and both countries closed their diplomatic offices.
20 years ago, Then, several secret meetings took place between Israeli officials and Moroccan foreign ministers.
- In September 2018, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu secretly met with Moroccan Foreign Minister Bourita, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly meetings in New York.
what are they saying:
- Today I signed a declaration recognizing Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara. Trump tweeted. “Morocco’s serious, reliable and realistic proposal for autonomy is the only basis for a just and lasting solution to achieve lasting peace and prosperity!”
- “Another historic breakthrough today! Our great friends Israel and the Kingdom of Morocco agreed to establish full diplomatic relations – a colossal breakthrough for peace in the Middle East!”