President Donald Trump announced that Israel and Morocco have decided to normalize relations. This will be the fourth normalization agreement between Israel and Arab countries in the past four months. Under the agreement announced shortly before President Trump’s term expires, the US will accept the controversial claim in Morocco’s Western Sahara region.
President Trump stated that diplomatic and other relations between Israel and Morocco will begin immediately, including communication offices to be established in Tel Aviv and Rabat and the embassies to be finally established.
In the statement made by the White House, President Trump and King of Morocco VI. It was noted that Muhammad was in agreement.
President Trump, in his Twitter message, said, “ Today we have left another historical turning point behind. Our two great friends Israel and the Kingdom of Morocco agreed to establish full diplomatic relations. This is an important achievement for peace in the Middle East. ”
Under the deal, the US will also accept Morocco’s claim in the disputed Western Sahara region, the former Spanish territory in North Africa.
The deal was reached after negotiations by President Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his international chief negotiator, Avi Berkowitz.
Other countries that signed agreements to normalize relations with Israel in recent months were the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan. The Trump administration hopes that Saudi Arabia will also sit on the deal table.
Before Israel’s founding in 1948, Morocco housed a large Jewish population who fled from Spain and Portugal to North Africa during the Spanish Inquisition. A small Jewish community continues to exist in Morocco, although their numbers have declined.
Following Israel’s provisional peace agreements with Palestine in the 1990s, Morocco started its relations with Israel informally. However, these relations were suspended with the start of the second Palestinian uprising in the 2000s.
Informal relations have continued since then. Around 50,000 Jews travel to Morocco each year to learn about the Jewish community and trace their ancestors.
Morocco has claimed since 1975 that the vast desert areas of Western Sahara were their own “southern states”. The group called Polisario Front wants this region to be independent.
Praise from Israel, condemnation from Palestine
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the statement made by President Trump. Netanyahu said the agreement will enable direct flights between the two countries. Netanyahu said, “I have always believed that this historical peace will come one day. I always worked for this. ”
Bassam Salhi, Executive Board Member of the Palestine Liberation Organization, condemned the deal. Palestinian officials have previously condemned Israel’s agreements to normalize relations with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan.
Salhi told the Reuters news agency that the withdrawal from the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, which blocked normalization of relations, could only happen after Israel ended the occupation of Arab lands.
In Gaza, Hamas Spokesperson Hazem Qassem said that the agreement, which he regards as a “sin”, does not serve the Palestinian people. Qassem argued that the Israeli occupation uses every new normalization agreement to increase its aggression against the Palestinian people and to further expand settlements in the Palestinian land.