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A comprehensive file on the issue of normalization between Israel and Morocco between the past and the present

An agreement was announced regarding the normalization of relations between Israel and Morocco, for the Kingdom to join Arab countries that took similar steps recently. Meanwhile, in Morocco, he celebrated obtaining recognition from outgoing US President Donald Trump of Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara.

1- The historical roots of the Moroccan relations with Israel

Israel-Morocco relations are the bilateral relations between Israel and Morocco. Officials of the two countries met several times, most notably when Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres visited Morocco in 1986 and met King Hassan II. [1]  In 1994, each of the two countries opened a liaison office in the other. [2]  In 2003, Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom met King Mohammed VI in Morocco. [3]  On December 10, 2020, Israel and Morocco agreed to establish full diplomatic relations under US auspices. (4)

The reign of King Mohammed V

Moroccans, like many people of Arab countries, have been at war with Israel since 1948, when a group of Moroccans joined the Arab volunteer army to participate in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, during which more than 10 Moroccans were martyred in battles in the cities of Jerusalem, Jaffa and Haifa. (5)

The Oujda and Jerada riots took place on June 7 and 8, 1948, in which Muslim Moroccans attacked the Jews and the French. (6)

The reign of King Hassan II

During the reign of King Hassan II, the relationship between Morocco and Israel was described as controversial, and this was evident when the Israeli intelligence (Mossad) carried out Operation Yachin between November 1961 and 1964, during which more than 97,000 Moroccan Jews were secretly migrated across Europe to Israel, and Morocco received compensation Financial, the first batch of which amounted to half a million dollars. [7] [8] [9]

According to Shlomo Gazette, an officer in the Mossad (he was the commander of the Armored Corps and later head of the Mossad), Hassan II informed agents of the Mossad and the Shin Bet (known as the Unit of the Birds) around the hotel in Casablanca where the Arab League summit will be held in September 1965, and that in order to record talks Arab leaders in the secret session where they addressed the issue of their preparation for war with Israel. [10] [11]  He gave them an entire floor in the hotel, and asked them to leave the day before the start of the Arab summit. (11)

According to investigative journalist Ronen Bergman, this information was useful in Israel’s victory in the 1967 war. According to him, the Mossad then provided information to Moroccan intelligence that led to the arrest and assassination of Mahdi Bin Baraka, leader of the Third World Movement and African Unity, in October 1965. [10]  Israel was arrested in October 1965 . In 1971 and 1972, three Moroccans were among the forces of the Palestinian revolution. [12]

In the 1973 war, Morocco sent a military expedition consisting of an infantry brigade to the Egyptian front, [13]  and an armored brigade to the Syrian front. [13]  During this time, 8 Moroccans were captured by Israel. Moroccans joined the forces of the Palestinian revolution in Lebanon, and some of them were martyred in the battles against Israel. [14]

In 1975, the Organization of the Islamic Conference decided to establish the Al-Quds Committee and assigned its presidency to King Hassan II of Morocco in 1979. [15]  Later in 1998, the Beit Mal Al-Quds Al-Sharif Agency was created and affiliated with the Jerusalem Committee, which is based in Morocco. [16]

On July 22, 1986, Hassan II received Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres at the Ifrane airport, and met there in the capital, Rabat. [1]  His meeting was met with violent reaction and protests from the Arab League and Moroccans alike. [17]  Nevertheless, he maintained his relationship with Perez, and in 1999 Perez expressed his condolences on the death of Hassan II. [18]  About 200 Israeli officials participated in the funeral. [19]  On April 28, 2019, the Israel account in Arabic on Twitter posted a picture of Hassan II and Peres’s meeting in Rabat in 1986. [20]

Morocco has tacitly recognized the State of Israel since September 1, 1994, when Israel opened a liaison office in Morocco, and in 1995–96, Morocco opened a similar office in Israel. [2]  Israel also allowed it to have a Moroccan diplomatic mission to the Palestinian Authority, which was established in 1996 in Gaza City, and later it moved to Ramallah. [21]

The reign of King Mohammed VI

After Hassan II’s death, Israel issued a postage stamp bearing his picture in his honor. Later, the Israeli Minister of Information traveled to Morocco and handed the stamp to the new king, Mohammed VI. [22]

25 Israeli military experts provided aid and some technical services to the Moroccan Air Force on May 12, 2000. [19]

On September 22, 2000, Israeli businessmen representing 24 Israeli companies specializing in agricultural and biological technologies and plant fertilization methods visited at the invitation of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Services in Casablanca. [19]  In September 2000, dozens of managers of Moroccan institutions and associations attended a training course in the fields of agriculture, computers, cooperation and small enterprises. [19]

On October 23, 2000, Morocco announced the closure of the liaison office in Israel and the Israeli office in Rabat, in protest against the Israeli policy in dealing with the second Palestinian intifada and the Israeli government’s announcement of stopping the peace process. [23] [2] [21]  Moroccan demonstrators demanded that the government open the door to jihad to help the Palestinians. [21]  Sources of the Israeli Liaison Office in Morocco indicated that the volume of trade exchange between the two countries amounted to about 50 million dollars in 1999, and that about 50 thousand Israelis visited Morocco during that period in exchange for 1000 Moroccan Jews who visited Israel. [24]

Benjamin Netanyahu

On September 1, 2003, Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom (a Jew born in Tunisia) arrived in Rabat, carrying a letter from Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to King Mohammed VI. [3]  Diplomatic relations with Israel were resumed after the meeting, through the reactivation of the two countries’ liaison offices. [25] [26]  The deputy secretary general of the Moroccan Justice and Development Party at the time, Saad Eddine El Othmani, said: “ The party views the visit with great concern, especially when it comes in light of these heinous massacres that Sharon and his government are carrying out against the defenseless Palestinian people. » [19]

On 4 July 2007, a meeting took place between Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Moroccan Foreign Minister Mohamed Benaissa in Paris. (2)

In 2008, a prisoner exchange took place between Israel and the Lebanese Hezbollah, and Israel released the remains of three Moroccan fighters it had in the Numbers cemetery. [27]

The two countries participated in the Warsaw conference in February 2019, and the Israeli Channel 13 also announced that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had secretly met with Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita in New York during the United Nations General Assembly meetings, and they discussed the normalization of relations and the Iranian file. [28] [29]  Rumors and suspicions circulated about Morocco’s attempt to normalize relations with Israel, but protests in Morocco thwarted them. [30]

In January 2020, Morocco bought three Israeli drones for $ 48 million. [31] [32]  The incident in Morocco’s purchase of 70 used Israeli buses via Italy also sparked controversy in Morocco in February 2020. [33] [34]

On August 24, 2020, Moroccan Prime Minister Saad Eddin El Othmani said, “ Morocco rejects any normalization with the“ Zionist entity ”because this strengthens its position in continuing to violate the rights of the Palestinian people. » [35] In  addition, 32 bodies and organizations including political, trade union, human rights, youth, and women’s organizations denounced the Emirati-Israeli agreement. [36]  Authorities and organizations protested in front of the UAE embassy in Morocco due to normalization. [37] [38] [39]

2- The formal normalization of relations

In September 2020, Donald Trump announced that he was seeking direct flights between Rabat and Tel Aviv. [40]

On December 10, 2020, US President Donald Trump announced that Morocco and Israel had agreed to normalize relations between them through US mediation, and he also said that he had signed a declaration recognizing Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara.

Trump announces Morocco is the latest Arab country to agree to normalize relations with Israel

US President Donald Trump announced that Morocco has become the latest Arab country to agree to normalize relations with Israel. “Another historic achievement,” Trump said in a tweet on Twitter. “Two of our greatest friends, Israel and Morocco, have agreed on full diplomatic relations.”

For his part, the Moroccan Royal Court confirmed that Trump informed Moroccan King Mohammed VI of the United States ’recognition for the first time of Moroccan sovereignty over the Sahara, and the Moroccan Royal Court added that Washington decided to open a consulate in the city of Dakhla to encourage investment and development. In return, he thanked the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the King of Morocco, and said that the people of Israel and Morocco have a “warm relationship in the modern era.”

What do we know about the deal?

The US President announced the agreement on his Twitter account on Thursday. The White House said that Trump and Moroccan King Mohammed VI agreed that “the kingdom will resume its diplomatic relations with Israel, as well as strengthening economic and cultural cooperation between the two countries in a way that supports stability in the region.” The agreement includes reopening liaison offices in Tel Aviv and Rabat that were closed in 2000 during the Palestinian uprising, and then exchanging embassies in both countries.

Officials spoke of Morocco’s willingness to allow direct flights to and from Israel for all Israelis, thus becoming the fourth Arab country, since last August, to agree to normalize relations with Israel, after the UAE, Bahrain and Sudan.

The Palestinians consider these steps a breach of pledges made by Arab countries not to establish relations with Israel until the establishment of a Palestinian state. However, the Moroccan monarch said that these measures do not in any way affect Morocco’s firm stance on the just Palestinian cause.

A royal statement stated that the Moroccan monarch spoke to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and assured him that he would never back down from his role in defending the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, stressing his support for the two-state solution.

What about the Western Sahara issue?

The White House said it was agreed that the United States would recognize Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara.

In a phone call with the Moroccan monarch, Trump confirmed his support for Morocco’s proposal on autonomy in Western Sahara as the only fair and lasting basis for resolving the conflict.

Trump described the Moroccan proposal as “serious and realistic.”

In response to the US announcement, the representative of the Polisario Front to the United Nations, Sidi Omar, said that the legal status is determined by international law and UN resolutions.

“The step indicates that the Moroccan regime is ready to sell itself in order to preserve the illegal occupation of parts of Western Sahara,” Omar added in a tweet on Twitter.

Reuters news agency quoted Abi Bachraya, the Polisario representative in Europe, as saying that the change in US policy will not change anything about the reality of the conflict and the right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination.

Last month, the front announced the end of a thirty-year ceasefire, following a Moroccan military operation in a buffer zone.

A source from the Moroccan Foreign Ministry responded, telling the BBC that Morocco had not violated the armistice, but what happened was that its forces responded to a provocation by the Polisario fighters who cut off one of the main roads leading to Mauritania.

According to the American announcement on Thursday, the United States believes that the establishment of an independent Sahrawi state is not “a realistic option to resolve the conflict, and that autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty is the only possible solution.”

And according to Reuters, the Moroccan Royal Court said that Washington will open a consulate in Western Sahara as part of the normalization agreement with Israel to encourage.

The territorial dispute over Western Sahara has been raging for decades between Morocco and the Polisario Front.

Map of Western Sahara
There have been mixed reactions to US President Donald Trump’s announcement Thursday evening to normalize relations between Morocco and Israel and the recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara, after the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan, Morocco has become the fourth Arab country since August to pledge to normalize relations with the Hebrew state.
Morocco considers Western Sahara an integral part of its national territory and controls 80 percent of its 266,000 square kilometers of land, and proposes granting it extended autonomy under its sovereignty, while the Polisario Front has been calling for years for a self-determination referendum under a ceasefire agreement signed in the year. 1991 sponsored by the United Nations after a war that lasted 16 years.
 
Morocco, West, sunset 
Morocco affirmed “the resumption of diplomatic relations” with Israel “as soon as possible” and described Washington’s decision to recognize Moroccan sovereignty over the disputed Western Sahara as a “historical position”, stressing “the historical role that Morocco has been playing in bringing the peoples of the region together, and supporting security and stability.” In the Middle East ”. The Moroccan monarch offered “many thanks” to the US President for the “historic position” on Western Sahara.
 
Israel 
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the “historic” agreement, explaining, “We will first establish liaison offices and then direct diplomatic relations between the two countries and direct flights” between the two countries soon.
The Palestinians
The Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) on Thursday considered the decision to normalize relations between Morocco and Israel “a political sin that does not serve the Palestinian cause,” according to the movement’s spokesman. Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said in a statement to AFP that the decision represents “a political sin that does not serve the Palestinian cause and encourages the occupation to deny the rights of our people.” He continued, “The occupation exploits all cases of normalization in order to increase the dose of its aggressive policy against our Palestinian people and increase its settlement intrusion.”
There was no immediate comment by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who the Moroccan monarch confirmed that he called him, assuring him that the normalization measures “do not in any way affect the permanent and sustained commitment of Morocco in defending the just Palestinian cause.”
 
Egypt 
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi welcomed Thursday the announcement of the normalization of relations between Morocco and Israel, considering it a “important step” for the region. “I followed with great interest the important development regarding Morocco and Israel agreeing to normalize relations between them under the auspices of the United States,” adding, “The most valuable of this important step is that it is an achievement. More stability and regional cooperation in our region.
Spain
Spain, the former colonial power in Western Sahara, confirmed that it would respect “United Nations resolutions to find a way out” to the conflict in Western Sahara, while welcoming the decision of normalization between Morocco and Israel.
Polisario Front
The Polisario Front condemned “in the strongest terms” US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara. “The government of the SADR and the Polisario Front condemns, in the strongest terms, the fact that the outgoing US President Donald Trump recognized Morocco for what it does not have for those who do not deserve,” the Sahrawi Information Ministry said. She added, “Trump’s decision does not change anything from the legal nature of the Sahrawi issue, as the international community does not recognize Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara, because it remains the exclusive property of the Sahrawi people.”
United nations
The spokesperson for the United Nations Secretary-General confirmed that the position of Antonio Guterres has not changed regarding Western Sahara after the decision of US President Donald Trump to recognize Moroccan sovereignty over this region. Stefan Dujarric said that Guterres “believes (…) that it is still possible to reach a solution on the basis of UN Security Council resolutions.” The talks that are taking place between Morocco and the Polisario Front under the auspices of the United Nations have been suspended since March 2019. The front has been calling for years for a referendum on self-determination.

3- How will the agreement affect Western Sahara?

There will not necessarily be a direct impact on the ground of the Trump administration’s latest move; This is because the dispute seems to be greater than the whims of the US President.

However, Trump’s endorsement of Morocco’s position on sovereignty over Western Sahara is a major bargain that affects the hopes of a people who have been looking for decades for the region’s independence.

The United Nations is still tasked with overseeing a referendum on independence for Western Sahara – although this has not been achieved since 1991, when the United Nations launched its mission there.

And like any new independent state, the Sahrawi state needs in order to gain international recognition, which is dispelled by the US President’s declaration of his support for Morocco’s sovereignty over the region.

In light of these developments, the situation in the region, which has witnessed tensions over recent months, is likely to escalate further.

Why was the normalization between Morocco and Israel not surprising?

Morocco became the latest country in the Arab League to agree to normalize relations with Israel, through US mediation. As part of the agreement, the United States agreed to recognize Morocco’s sovereignty over the disputed Western Sahara region. It is a move that Borzo Daragi, a fellow in Middle East programs at the Atlantic Council Research Center, says could lead to strained relations between Washington and Algeria, which supports the Polisario.

It is reported that Western Sahara is the subject of a dispute between Morocco and the Polisario Front backed by Algeria, which seeks to establish an independent state.

Morocco is the fourth country to conclude such an agreement with Israel since last August, as the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan preceded it.

Besides Egypt and Jordan, Morocco became the sixth member state of the Arab League to normalize relations with Israel.

Normalization
Agreements have recently been concluded with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan

The agreement includes the reopening of liaison offices in Tel Aviv and Rabat, which were closed in 2000 due to the deterioration of relations after the outbreak of the Palestinian uprising, and the eventual opening of embassies.

Officials said Morocco would allow direct flights to and from Israel for all Israelis.

Intelligence cooperation

The American New York Times says that behind the recent announcement of the first formal diplomatic relations between Israel and Morocco lies nearly 6 decades of close and secret cooperation in intelligence and military matters between two countries that have not officially recognized each other.

The newspaper added that the Moroccan-Israeli relationship is partly due to the large number of Jews in Morocco, as many of them used to immigrate there. Some estimates indicate that there are about one million Israelis of Moroccan descent.

The New York Times said that the Israeli Mossad helped the Moroccan authorities in kidnapping Moroccan dissident Mahdi Ben Barka in the French capital, Paris. In return, the newspaper adds, the king allowed the immigration of Jews.

The late Moroccan monarch King Hassan II

The newspaper went on to say that in the late 1970s, King Hassan and his government became the back channel between Israel and Egypt, and Morocco became the site for secret meetings between their officials, before the conclusion of the Camp David Accords in 1978 and the normalization of relations between former enemies, and for its part, Israel later helped persuade the United States to provide military aid to Morocco. .

The newspaper said that in 1995 Moroccan intelligence joined the failed Mossad plan to recruit the secretary of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden to locate and kill him, according to a former Mossad official, who requested anonymity.

“Not surprising”

“This announcement is not surprising, as Morocco was one of the centers of Jewish life in the region, and the Moroccan monarch also appointed senior Jewish advisers in his government,” says Carmel Arbet, a fellow in the Middle East Program at the Atlantic Council Institute.

She added, “Just as Moroccan Jewish history has recently been integrated into the school curricula, there are already more than 30 million dollars worth of annual trade between the two countries, and tens of thousands of Israelis travel to Morocco annually.”

The Israeli newspaper The Times of Israel says that, unlike Israel’s other old and new peace partners, Morocco has an ongoing connection to Israel and many Israelis will rush to a direct trip to Morocco.

Rubin bin Saadoun Synagogue in Fez
Rubin bin Saadoun Synagogue in Fez

Unlike Egypt and Jordan, which signed peace treaties with Israel decades ago, and unlike the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan, which are the Arab countries that normalized relations with Israel this year, Morocco and Israel have an ancient and deep Jewish relationship, and the Moroccan Jewish community, despite its small size, is thriving. .

The Times of Israel says that the origins of Moroccan Jews go back 2,000 years “after the destruction of the Second Temple and the exile”.

In the early 1940’s, Sultan Mehmed V resisted Nazi pressure to deport Moroccan Jews.

The number of Jews in Morocco dwindled with the establishment of the State of Israel, and today only a limited number ranging from two to three thousand Jews remains, but hundreds of thousands of Israelis trace their origins to Morocco.

US President Donald Trump’s envoy and son-in-law Jared Kushner recently put the number at “more than a million.”

Worshipers in Marrakesh
Jewish worshipers in Marrakesh

The Maymouna party, which is traditionally celebrated in Israeli society after the end of Passover, has become a staple of the Israeli cultural calendar as countless people barbecue in gardens and politicians rush to as many auspicious festivities as they can eat mafeltuts and other Jewish dishes Moroccan delicacy.

The Oslo Accords and their aftermath

While Israeli tourists did not begin to discover the Gulf until very recently, they have been flocking to Rabat, Marrakech, Casablanca, Tangiers and Fez via a third country for many years.

Once diplomatic relations are established between the two countries and direct air routes are opened, the numbers can be expected to increase dramatically.

In the wake of the 1995 Oslo Accords, Morocco and Israel opened reciprocal “liaison offices”, but these were closed a few years later after the outbreak of the second Palestinian intifada in 2000.

The Jerusalem Post says there has been little progress since then and Rabat was openly against normalization in 2013.

The newspaper adds that Kushner played a key role in pushing forward the peace agreements and was also in Qatar recently to try to end a crisis in the Gulf between Riyadh and Doha.

The Oslo Accords
The Oslo Accords

In mid-September, rumors that Morocco would normalize relations cooled with reports that Rabat would wait.

The direct flights that appeared on the horizon in September also did not materialize.

In the wake of the normalization agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, there was much speculation that other countries would follow.

It appears that Sudan was waiting for Washington’s support to remove it from the list of state sponsors of terrorism to take this step.

Many expected Saudi Arabia to take a step toward a peace deal with Israel, but the US elections may have changed those calculations, according to the Jerusalem Post.

4- Advertising and reactions

And US President Donald Trump announced Thursday that Morocco has become the latest Arab country to agree to normalize relations with Israel.

“Another historic achievement,” Trump said in a tweet on Twitter. “Two of our greatest friends, Israel and Morocco, have agreed on full diplomatic relations.”

Trump and Kushner
Trump and Kushner

In a statement to the media following the agreement, Kushner confirmed that “its liaison offices in Rabat and Tel Aviv will be opened immediately with the intention of opening embassies. It will also encourage economic cooperation between Israeli and Moroccan companies.

“Today, the administration achieved another historic milestone,” Kushner said. President Trump brokered a peace agreement between Morocco and Israel – the fourth agreement of its kind between Israel and an Arab / Islamic country in four months.

Kouchner added, “With this historic step, Morocco is deepening its long-standing relationship with the Moroccan Jewish community living in Morocco and all over the world, including in Israel. This is an important step forward for the people of Israel and Morocco.

For his part, the Moroccan Royal Court confirmed that Trump informed Moroccan King Mohammed VI of the United States ’recognition for the first time of Moroccan sovereignty over the Sahara.

The Moroccan Royal Court added that Washington decided to open a consulate in the city of Dakhla to encourage investment and development.

The Moroccan Royal Court statement said: “Morocco has played a historical role in bringing the peoples of the region together and supporting security and stability in the Middle East. There are special ties that link His Majesty personally with the Jewish communities of Moroccan origin, including in Israel.”

For his part, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the “historic” agreement. In a televised address, Netanyahu thanked the King of Morocco and said that the peoples of Israel and Morocco have a “warm relationship in the modern era.”

He added, “His country will start establishing liaison offices with Morocco as a first step in the normalization process.”

Meanwhile, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain issued statements welcoming the agreement between Morocco and Israel.

Thus, Morocco becomes the fourth Arab country, since last August, to sign an agreement to normalize relations with Israel, after the UAE, Bahrain and Sudan.

5- The Palestinian position

Palestinian officials denounced the agreement, saying it encouraged Israel’s denial of their rights. The Palestinians criticize the normalization agreements, saying that the Arab countries have backed away from the cause of peace by abandoning the main demand, which is land in exchange for recognition of Israel.

“Morocco’s decision to restore and upgrade diplomatic relations with Israel showed that the nightmare of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas did not end with the election of Joe Biden,” said Jonathan Fritzger, a fellow in the Middle East program at the Atlantic Council.

Mahmoud Abbas
Mahmoud Abbas

He added, “Even in the Biden era, the Palestinians have little hope of getting what they want. While the president-elect may return hundreds of millions of aid funds cut by Trump and allow the Palestinians to reopen their closed representative office in Washington, the American embassy that was moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem will remain, and to the disappointment of the Palestinians, Biden praised the willingness of the Arab countries to reconcile with Israel and would certainly encourage him, and this is the direction when he takes over the Middle East policy in Washington next month.

How did the Arabs receive him? How is it different from others?

The announcement sparked mixed reactions among Moroccan commentators, as activists called for the launch of popular campaigns denouncing the signed agreement and emphasizing the centrality of the Palestinian cause.

Soon hashtags spread denouncing the king’s approval of the agreement without “paying attention to the reaction of the Moroccan street, which considers the Palestinian issue a national issue no less sacred or important than the issue of the Sahara Desert,” according to what bloggers said.

Despite the distance distances, Morocco has a strong presence in Jerusalem through the “Bayt Mal Al Quds” foundation, which was established on the initiative of Moroccan King Hassan II to defend the Arab identity inside the city.

Therefore, commentators expect that Morocco’s recent decision will harm “the king’s image among the conservatives, as a” leader of the faithful “and holding the position of head of the Jerusalem Committee, as they put it.

On the contrary, a number of Moroccan political actors speak of positive aspects of the agreement.

Some of them referred to the humanitarian aspect of the agreement that would allow about one million Jews in Israel of Moroccan origin to visit the countries of their ancestors without restrictions or concerns.

While others who call themselves supporters of “realism” see that all policies are subject to change in the interest of the state.

Moroccan analysts say that “their country did not give up its constants and principles towards the Palestinian cause, but rather agreed to demarcate relations in exchange for a set of privileges that cannot be refused.”

And it seems that the return this time has been very tempting and acceptable, to some.

What is new in this agreement and how does it differ from others?

 In this agreement and how is it different from others?

6- An “unprecedented recognition of the Moroccanness of the Sahara”

Announcing the agreement, which he described as “a new historic breakthrough for peace in the Middle East,” Trump announced the United States’ recognition of Morocco’s sovereignty over the Sahara region, which has been in dispute with the Polisario Front for decades.

This is the first time that a Western country recognizes Morocco’s right to the disputed Sahara region with the Polisario Front backed by Algeria.

It seemed that most of the political parties chose to focus on the American recognition of the Moroccan Sahara, considering it a “historic achievement that came as a result of the tireless efforts and the wise vision of the king.”

In this context, Prime Minister Saad Eddine El Othmani said, “The main event and the real achievement is the recognition by the United States, as a superpower and an effective member of the Security Council and in the international resolution, of Morocco’s full sovereignty over all the soil of the Moroccan Sahara.”

Othmani also indicated Washington’s intention to “open a consulate in the city of Dakhla (southern Morocco), to encourage investment in the Moroccan Sahara.”

So it became clear what privileges some Moroccan politicians talked about and which ordinary citizens refuse to say, ‘in them an unacceptable barter and a betrayal of the Palestinian cause.’

In the wing of the parties opposing the agreement, the Left Federalist Alliance (the coalition of three parties) stood up to express its regret, saying that “the Moroccan Sahara is the issue of a people looking to end what they started with independence and complete their territorial integrity, and Palestine is the issue of a people expelled from their land and facing daily arrogance …”

In the same context, one blogger asked: “Has the desert become in exchange for Jerusalem?”

While another wrote: “Morocco has not traded the issue of Palestine for the issue of the Sahara, as the merchants of the cause would like … It did not trade its sovereignty over the Sahara for the sovereignty of Jerusalem, it won a great American position.”

A return to previous agreements or normalization?

In anticipation of the criticism, Moroccan King Mohammed VI emphasized that the development of relations with Israel would not affect Morocco’s permanent commitment to defend the Palestinian cause.

He also stressed his support for the two-state solution and the need to preserve the special status of Jerusalem as a holy city for the monotheistic religions.

The Moroccan monarch had announced “the resumption of official bilateral contacts and diplomatic relations between Rabat and Tel Aviv as soon as possible.”

According to a statement by the royal court, the agreement between Rabat and Israel also includes facilitating direct flights between the two countries to transport Jews of Moroccan origin and Israeli tourists to and from Morocco.

The advisor to the US President, Gerald Kouchner had indicated that the agreement would formalize diplomatic and economic relations between the two countries, highlighting that they would “reopen the liaison offices that handle the work of embassies and consulates.”

In parallel, Reuters quoted American sources as saying that the United States is negotiating to sell advanced drones to Morocco.

“No more deals soon.”

For his part, Mark Katz, a fellow at the Atlantic Council Institute, ruled out the possibility of concluding any other normalization agreements soon.

He explained, “As was expected last September, a normalization agreement has now been signed between Morocco and Israel, but there may not be many such agreements in the near future, as the governments heavily affected by Iran’s influence will not normalize relations with Israel, and Algeria will certainly not do that. Now that the Trump administration sided with Morocco on the Western Sahara issue. ”

He continued, saying: “Also, such a step will also be difficult for Tunisia and Kuwait, which are subject to more restrictions on public opinion than other Arab governments. King Salman has announced that he opposes such a step, and Qatar has indicated that it will not conclude such an agreement either, and it seems that Oman It is the most likely possibility to normalize relations with Israel, but it may be satisfied with the current situation based on quiet cooperation with Israel.

What are the contexts and connotations?

While Arab bloggers describe what happened as a dangerous transformation, another group of commentators believe that what the two countries have reached is not a comprehensive normalization, as in the case of the UAE and Bahrain, or a breakthrough as promoted by Trump and his administration.

Analysts and politicians described the agreement as just a step to reopen the representation office between the two countries after it was closed in 2002.

They say that Morocco dealt strategically with the deal that Trump offered him in exchange for solving the Sahara problem, taking advantage of the vacancy of its neighbor, Algeria.

The US administration’s recognition of Morocco’s sovereignty over the Sahara region is considered by some Moroccans as a major victory over Algeria, which supports the Polisario.

Morocco’s interest in that region is not limited to political gains, as studies indicate the presence of significant oil and gas reserves and enormous livestock in the coasts of Western Sahara.

On the other hand, commentators fear that recognition of Morocco’s sovereignty over the Sahara will increase tension in the region.

Some also expect that the final agreement will complicate the task of the next US president, Joe Biden.

The Biden administration did not comment on Trump’s move, while the representative of the Polisario Front in Europe expressed his regret for Washington’s decision, saying: “This decision will not change the reality of the conflict and the right of the Sahrawi people to self-determination.”

On the other hand, Palestinian factions denounced the Moroccan-Israeli normalization, and Hamas described it as a “political sin.”

Contrary to previous times, the Palestinian government did not issue an official statement regarding the latest agreement. Rabat had mentioned that the king had a call with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to inform him of the details of the agreement.

However, Nabil Shaath, the special representative of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said, “Trump’s announcement suggests that he carried out in Morocco the pressures, measures and temptations he had made in the past with a purely personal goal.”

Meanwhile, Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita denied “that the American recognition of sovereignty over the Sahara is in return for restoring relations with Israel, especially since there has been a relationship between Morocco and Israel since the 1990s.”

Israel hailed the agreement with Morocco, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it “another great light for peace.”

Before the last agreement, Morocco and Israel did not have formal relations, but media reports spoke of secret relations between the two countries since the 1960s.

The Israeli flag has also been raised in sports competitions hosted by Morocco.

7- Did Morocco gain from the exchange of normalization with Israel by acknowledging its sovereignty over the Western Sahara?

Concerning establishing official relations with Israel, the statement stated that Morocco intends to “resume official bilateral contacts and diplomatic relations as soon as possible” with Israel, to develop innovative relations in the economic and technological fields … and to work on reopening liaison offices in the two countries.

In anticipation of any internal and external criticism of this step and in order to avoid any interpretation that would give a negative character to Morocco’s position on the Palestinian issue, the royal palace statement stressed that “these measures do not affect Morocco’s commitment to defend the Palestinian cause, and that Morocco supports a two-state solution.”

The statement revealed that King Mohammed VI called Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and reassured him that “Morocco places the Palestinian issue in the ranking of the Moroccan Sahara issue, and that Morocco’s consolidation of Morocco will never be at the expense of the Palestinian people’s struggle for their legitimate rights.”

In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cheered the normalization of relations with Morocco, calling it a “historic agreement.”

In the Arab region, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt went to praise the announcement that Morocco and Israel had reached an agreement to normalize relations between the two countries.

In New York, a spokesman for the Secretary-General of the United Nations said that the position of Antonio Guterres has not changed regarding Western Sahara, and that “it is still possible to reach a solution on the basis of UN Security Council resolutions.”

If some believed that Morocco had succeeded in extracting valuable American recognition of its sovereignty over the territory of Western Sahara, others criticized it on two fronts.

Palestinian factions denounced the Moroccan-Israeli normalization, and Hamas called it a “political sin.” The Palestine Liberation Organization also expressed its rejection of the move, which “will increase Israel’s arrogance and its denial of the rights of the Palestinian people.”

Regarding the American recognition of the Moroccanness of the Western Sahara region, Abi Bachraya Al-Bashir, the representative of the Polisario Front in Europe, expressed his regret over Washington’s decision and said: “This decision will not change the reality of the conflict and the right of the Sahrawi people to self-determination,” adding that the front will continue its struggle.

In Algeria, many media outlets denounced the Moroccan move, whether in terms of American recognition of Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara or normalization with Israel.

Morocco is the fourth Arab Muslim country to sign an agreement to normalize relations with Israel within four months. Analysts believe that Rabat, which spent two years negotiating with the US administration on this deal, came out the biggest winner, especially with regard to Washington’s recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over the territory of Western Sahara. A recognition that Morocco considers to be a valuable catch, which it will use in international forums to convince the international public that the dispute over the sovereignty of Western Sahara can only be resolved under its sovereignty.

In your opinion:  What did Rabat gain from the normalization deal with Israel?

What does the American recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over the Sahara mean?

Does American recognition accelerate conflict resolution in the region?

What is the danger of this recognition for the future struggle of the Polisario Front?

Can Morocco combine support for the Palestinians with the relationship with Israel?

Is the Moroccan normalization with Israel a blow to the Palestinian cause?

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SAKHRI Mohamed

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