Sunday, February 28, 2021

Israeli and US envoys meet Morocco king to advance ties

As Morocco strengthens ties with Israel, Tunisia has said it is not interested in establishing any such ties.

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Israeli envoys arrived in Morocco on Tuesday to meet the king and further the upgrade of relations forged by the Trump White House.

Led by National Security adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat, the Israeli delegation was accompanied by Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, Reuters reports.

They flew on El Al, the Israeli airline, aboard the first direct commercial flight from Tel Aviv to Rabat.

Both countries anticipate a surge in tourism on such connections, mainly among the hundreds of thousands of Israelis of Moroccan descent.

Morocco has followed the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan in moving toward normal relations with Israel.

Palestinians have declared such moves as a betrayal of long-standing agreements that Israel should first meet their statehood demands.

Israel’s new partners have enjoyed bilateral benefits with Washington in the form of promises of business opportunities and economic aid. In Rabat’s case, one reward is US recognition of its sovereignty over the Western Sahara.

Moroccan and Israeli officials also signed accords on linking up aviation and financial systems, visa waivers and water management.

Morocco’s Royal Palace said the agreement is a “major development in favour of regional peace and stability”, following talks between King Mohammed VI, Ben-Shabbat and Kushner.

The Palace also reiterated its support of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and highlighted its “close ties” with Morocco’s Jewish community.

“There are no limits for cooperation in aviation, innovation, health and agriculture. As friends and partners, we will make a change in the region,” said Ben-Shabbat, speaking in Moroccan Arabic as he invited King Mohammed to visit Israel.

The resumption of ties with Israel has been welcomed by the major Moroccan political parties but rejected by far left and Islamist groups.

Meanwhile, Tunisia is not interested in establishing diplomatic relations with Israel, its foreign ministry said on Tuesday, ending speculation that it would be the next Arab country to do so.

“As Tunisia respects the sovereign positions of other countries, it affirms that its stance is principled, and changes in the international scene will never affect it,” a foreign ministry statement said.

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