Udayavni Special

Israeli foreign minister lands in Morocco to strengthen ties


PTI, Aug 11, 2021, 5:02 PM IST

Rabat: Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid kicked off a bid to strengthen ties with Morocco on Wednesday, nearly a year after the two counties signed an accord to normalize relations.

The centrepiece of Lapid’s face-to-face diplomacy was to be the inauguration of Israel’s mission in the capital of Rabat.

His two days visit is the first visit to the country by an Israeli minister since 2003, and the first such meeting in Morocco since the US-brokered “Abraham Accords” with four Arab states: Morocco, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan.

The visit comes as Israel shows off other evidence of the accords moving forward.

The army released a photo of two senior officials, Israel Major General Tal Kelman and Bahraini Sheikh Abdulla bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, openly shaking hands after an era of less-public relations.

Israel and Morocco share a long history of formal and informal ties. Many Israelis have a lineage that traces back to Morocco, which is still home to a small community of several thousand Jews.

Lapid, who is slated to become prime minister in 2024 under Israel’s eight-party coalition government, is expected to meet with his Moroccan counterpart, Nasser Bourita and sign several agreements to push forward consultation between the two nations.

Lapid is slated to inaugurate the Israeli Liaison Office and pray at a synagogue.

Israel and Morocco had low-level diplomatic relations in the 1990s, but Morocco cut them off after the second Palestinian uprising erupted in 2000.

The two countries maintained informal ties, with thousands of Israelis travelling to Morocco each year.

As part of the deal to establish formal ties with Israel, the United States agreed to recognise Morocco’s claim over the long-disputed Western Sahara region, though the Biden administration has said it will review that decision.

Morocco’s 1975 annexation of Western Sahara is not recognized by the United Nations.

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