US President Donald Trump claimed another foreign policy victory for his administration by declaring that Israel and the North African Arab country of Morocco have agreed to normalize relations. This makes Rabat the fourth Arab capital after Abu Dhabi, Manama and Khartoum to unconditionally build diplomatic ties with Tel Aviv.
Although low-level normalization between Israel and Morocco has been reported for years, the news arrived as another disappointment for Palestinians who watch their former Arab allies joining the Israeli camp, while the Palestinians remain under Israeli military occupation.
— Barak Ravid (@BarakRavid) December 10, 2020
Similar to the previous Arab normalization scenarios, Morocco, too, received some political rewards for its decision. As part of the deal, Trump agreed to recognize Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara. The region has been the focal point of a decades-old territorial dispute, which pitted Morocco against the Algeria-backed Polisario Front, which perceives Morocco as a foreign invader of their land.
The American President sealed the agreement in a phone call with Morocco’s King Mohammed VI today, Thursday, December 10, according to a senior US official, the Reuters News Agency reported.
#Morocco 🇲🇦 state news agency issues a statement bragging about the US 🇺🇸 historical announcement to recognize the Kingdom’s sovereignty over Western Sahara
— Saad Abedine (@SaadAbedine) December 10, 2020
Under the agreement, Morocco is expected to establish full diplomatic ties and resume official contacts with Israel, grant overflights and also direct flights to and from Israel.
Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, told Reuters that both Israel and Morocco “are going to reopen their liaison offices in Rabat and Tel Aviv immediately with the intention to open embassies. And they are going to promote economic cooperation between Israeli and Moroccan companies.”
The agreement “further enhances Israel’s security, while creating opportunities for Morocco and Israel to deepen their economic ties and improve the lives of their people,” Kushner added.
Regarding disputed Western Sahara, a White House statement on the phone call between Trump and Mohammed VI said that the US “reaffirmed .. support for Morocco’s serious, credible, and realistic autonomy proposal as the only basis for a just and lasting solution to the dispute over the Western Sahara territory.”
— i24NEWS English (@i24NEWS_EN) December 10, 2020
“And as such the president recognized Moroccan sovereignty over the entire Western Sahara territory,” the statement said.
Until recently, the official Arab political strategy regarding Palestine was predicated on the understanding that no normalizations or recognition of Israel shall ever precede the end of the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the establishment of a Palestinian state.
Judging by the rush to normalization, that maxim seems no longer in effect. However, Arab countries like Algeria, Syria, Iraq and others insist that the end of Israeli occupation of Arab lands remains the prerequisite to any future normalization.
(The Palestine Chronicle, MEMO)