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Morocco further recognition for the State of Israel

After Bahrain, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates, Morocco has also decided to recognise the state of Israel. Morocco and Israel have therefore normalised their diplomatic relations, in an agreement reached with the help of the United States. This will facilitate economic exchanges between the two countries and Israeli aircraft will be able to enter the air space of Morocco, thus opening up airline routes between the two countries. The announcement of this historic agreement was made by Donald Trump through his Twitter profile with the following tweet: “Another HISTORIC breakthrough today! Our two GREAT friends Israel and the Kingdom of Morocco have agreed to full diplomatic relations – a massive breakthrough for peace in the Middle East!“. After the tweet came confirmations from both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and King Muhammad VI of Morocco.

In reality, the announcement ratifies an unofficial relationship between the two countries that had already been going on for decades.

Sometimes this rapprochement took place in daylight, as the photos of meetings between King Hassan II and Israeli leaders Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin testify.

After the Israeli-Palestinian Oslo accords in 1993, there was even a semi embassy of the Jewish state in Rabat, which was closed when the peace process collapsed.

The agreement announced a few days ago is also a way for Morocco to reconcile with its history: for centuries, the Moroccan Jewish community has been one of the largest in the diaspora, reaching up to 300,000 members, representing an important and very active and integrated component in society.

Indeed, after the birth of the State of Israel in 1948, most of the nationalist movement in Morocco waged a harsh campaign against the Jewish community in the name of pan-Arabism, culminating in the pogroms of Oujdah and Jerada.

These pogroms led to a massive exodus of the Jewish community to the state of Israel, the USA and Canada.

However, the Jewish community has never completely disappeared in Morocco.

Today, in fact, 8,000 Jews still live there and one of the most important members of the community, André Azoulay (father of Unesco’s director-general Audrey Azoulay), was for many years advisor first to King Hasan II and today to King Muhamad VI, contributing in a decisive way to keeping open the channels of communication between the State of Israel and the Moroccan constitutional monarchy.

 

In addition to this reason for ‘reunification,’ there are certainly two others to consider: Iran and Western Sahara.

For Morocco, the most important issue at stake is Western Sahara, and recognition by the United States on the same day is a huge success.

The former Spanish colony was occupied by Morocco with the ‘green march’ organised by Hassan II in 1975, on the occasion of the Spanish retreat. The Moroccan action, however, met with resistance from the Polisario Front (Popular Liberation Front of Saguia el Hamra and the Río de Oro), an armed independence movement supported by Algeria, Morocco’s eternal rival.

Forty-five years later, the status of the former Spanish possession has still not been defined. Negotiations under the aegis of the UN have been going on for years, but recently tensions with the Polisario Front have again increased in the desert.

In fact, this political movement has declared independence, proclaiming the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic.

The Front, for its part, has strongly criticized the announcement, claiming that ‘outgoing US President Donald Trump is attributing to Morocco something that does not belong to it’. The new development, the movement said, ‘will not change the reality of the conflict and the right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination’.

However, the issue is very controversial, as negotiations are still ongoing between Morocco and the Polisario Front, under the auspices of the United Nations. The area is therefore still the subject of a peacekeeping mission (Minurso), deployed in the area to monitor the ceasefire.

Criticism regarding this reconciliation between Morocco and Israel also came from Palestine.

There is dissatisfaction in the Palestinian camp, although the King of Morocco made it clear in a telephone conversation with President Mahmoud Abbas that he will continue to support the two-state solution to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Hamas and Islamic Jihad, Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip, spoke of “betrayal” by Rabat.

Hossein Amir Abdollahian, the international affairs advisor to the Speaker of the Iranian Parliament, declared that “Morocco betrays the Palestinian nation by concluding a peace agreement with Israel, mediated by US President Trump”, adding that “the normalisation of Morocco’s ties with the false regime that occupies Jerusalem is a betrayal that stabs the Palestinian resistance in the back”.

Also with regard to the case of Morocco, Iran is one of the keys to understanding the recent acceleration towards normalization with the Jewish state.

In 2018 Rabat unilaterally severed diplomatic relations with Tehran, recalled its ambassador and closed its embassy, after yet another discovery of a continuous flow of armaments, including sophisticated ones, between the Islamic republic and the Polisario Front guerrillas.

The policy of exportation of terrorism and instability of the Ayatollah regime, as has already happened in the case of the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, has represented, also in this case, one of the important elements to accelerate the process of normalization of the relations between Rabat and Jerusalem.

The entire MENA issue will be addressed shortly by President-elect Joe Biden who, since the first understanding between Israel and the Emirates, has confirmed his support for the Abraham Agreement and the new season of peace that has been inaugurated in the vast area between the Maghreb, the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa.

What is certain is that what has been happening in recent months between Abu Dhabi, Manama, Khartoum and Rabat shows that the balance of conflict in the Sunnite world between reforming modernity and Islamist conservation, is leaning decisively in favor of the first group.

Morocco and the United Arab Emirates, together, can be a driving factor capable of definitively archiving the season of permanent conflict and the Islamist threat of the international network of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Moreover, the Abraham Agreements could also help to “contain” the authoritarian and Islamist Turkey of Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his neo-Ottoman ambitions of exporting instability to the Aegean Sea, the Maghreb and the Gulf.

The main Arab power in the region, Saudi Arabia, could therefore be the next country to join the Abrahamic Accords.

This would be a historic step, a truly historic step.

The meeting that will take place in a fortnight’ time in the new town of Neom on the Red Sea, a few dozen kilometres from Israel, between the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, is a confirmation that the negotiations between Israel and the Saudi monarchy are very advanced.

Of course, the process of normalization with Saudi Arabia still has to deal with the most traditional component of the kingdom, starting with the 84-year-old regent King Salman, who would like to subordinate peace with Israel to a recognition of Palestine within the 1967 borders.

But the exigencies of containment with regard to Iran, Turkey and the Muslim Brotherhood, could push the Saudi monarchy towards an agreement with Israel and therefore the Palestinian question could no longer be the obligatory precondition for talking to each other and reaching a lasting agreement.

By: Michele Brunori

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