Israel and Morocco Sign Significant Security, Military Deals

Updated: November 26th, 2021 01:50 PM IST

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Israel and Morocco Sign Significant Security, Military Deals

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Arab leaders continue to flock toward Israel, signing normalization agreements and holding high-level meetings, something that was taboo just a few years ago.

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz this week became the first in his post to visit Rabat, and the second high-ranking government official, signing several agreements, in intelligence, defense industries, and cybersecurity. The defense memorandum of understanding is the first ever signed between Israel and an Arab country.

Gantz’s visit to Rabat sparked different responses among Moroccans. Some welcomed it, saying the North African Arab kingdom will gain from the new relationship, while others rejected it.

King Mohammed VI of Morocco joined the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan in normalizing ties with Israel last year with the support of former US President Donald Trump, who recognized Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara, a reversal of nearly half a century of US diplomatic policy, in return for Morocco’s decision to normalize ties with Israel.

Mohamed Bouden, head of the Atlas Center for the Analysis of Political and Institutional Indicators, told The Media Line that the visit “reflects the importance of relations with the Kingdom of Morocco for Israel, as it represents a continuation of resetting relations on strategic axes since the signing of the Moroccan-American-Israeli tripartite agreement in December 2020.”

Daniel Ben-Simon, a former member of Israel’s parliament, told The Media Line that this “historic visit by a top Israeli official is an indication of the strong ties that have existed for decades.”

“The relationship has been there since the 50s and 60s, in the 70s became very strong, and in the last few years it has been the strongest among Arab countries,” says Ben-Simon.

Morocco was supposed to be the gate for normalization with Arab countries and other opportunities for peace because Israel and Morocco is not a new story, it’s an old story

He says even before signing a normalization accord, there was a “natural rapprochement” because of the large Moroccan Jewish community in Israel. There are at least one million Jews of Moroccan origin in Israel, and many of them have visited Morocco regularly despite the countries not having had official ties with the encouragement of former King Hassan II, and the current king, his son Mohammed V.

“Morocco was supposed to be the gate for normalization with Arab countries and other opportunities for peace because Israel and Morocco is not a new story, it’s an old story,” Ben-Simon said.

Now tension is rising between Morocco and Algeria, with the latter accusing Rabat of threatening its national security due to its ties with Israel. Bouden says Algeria should applaud this relationship.

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