The plane, which took off from Tel Aviv airport, carried off an American Israeli delegation headed by President Donald Trump’s advisor, son-in-law Jared Kushner, and special adviser to the Israeli prime minister.
The delegation was received at Rabat-Sale airport by two local officials in the capital and the US ambassador to Morocco. The visit program includes a meeting with King Mohammed VI.
This visit, the facts of which are reported directly by the US Embassy in Rabat, comes in the wake of Morocco’s announcement on December 10 to resume its relations with Israel, in parallel with the announcement by the outgoing US President to recognize Moroccan sovereignty over the disputed Sahara region with the separatist Polisario Front.
The two sides are expected to sign four agreements on Tuesday in Rabat, including the opening of a direct air route between the two countries, the schedule of which has not yet been determined, linking their banking systems, and the creation of a travel visa for diplomats, in addition to water management, according to official Israeli sources.
The first historic commercial flight from Israel to Morocco
Morocco became the fourth Arab country to normalize its relations with Israel recently, under the auspices of the outgoing US President. However, the Kingdom receives between 50,000 to 70,000 Jewish tourists every year, most of them coming from Israel of Moroccan origin, on indirect trips.
The Israeli side aspires to establish “full diplomatic relations” with Morocco, according to Israeli sources, knowing that the Kingdom had previously established relations with Israel, where about 700,000 people of Moroccan origin live, through two liaison offices in the two countries after the signing of the 1993 Oslo peace agreement.
However, Morocco officially severed these relations after the Palestinian uprising in 2000. It is scheduled to reopen the two liaison offices in the two countries in accordance with the current agreement.
The trip also aims to showcase the Trump administration’s achievements in Middle East diplomacy weeks before President-elect Joe Biden arrives at the White House to succeed Trump.
And he raised the flag of the two countries on the plane that took off from Ben Gurion Airport, with the word “Peace” written on them in Hebrew, Arabic, and English.
The American recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over the Sahara left behind a broad satisfaction and welcome in Morocco. In contrast, the Palestinian issue in Morocco is considered a “national issue” alongside the Moroccan Sahara.
On Tuesday, the Moroccan newspaper Al-Ahdath, known for its proximity to official circles, published an interview with Kushner in which he said that “for decades Morocco has had a historic role in bringing the peoples of the region together,” with its front page entitled “Peace” in Arabic and Hebrew.
The Palestinians oppose the normalization of relations between Israel and the Arab world without an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.
King Mohammed VI had called the President of the Palestinian National Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, to inform him of the decision to resume relations with Israel, stressing that his position “to support the Palestinian cause is constant and does not change,” and that Morocco “with the two-state solution” and “the need to preserve the special status of Jerusalem”.
Relations between Israelis of Moroccan origin, including government officials, were a “cultural bridge” that facilitated an agreement between the two countries, according to official Israeli sources.
Morocco is home to the largest Jewish community in North Africa that dates back to ancient times and grew with the Jews who were expelled by the Catholic kings from Spain in 1492 with Muslims.
Their number was about 250,000 in the late 1940s, constituting ten percent of the population, but many Jews left after the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.
About three thousand Jews remained in Morocco, while 700 thousand Jews of Moroccan origin lived in Israel. Despite the suspension of bilateral relations in the year 2000, trade continued and reached $149 million between 2014 and 2017, according to Moroccan newspapers.
Many Jews of Moroccan origin, most of whom are Israelis, visit the Kingdom to hold religious ceremonies in Moroccan Jewish shrines.
The Moroccan constitution also stipulates the “Hebrew tributary” as a component of national identity in what is considered rare in the Arab world.
The American recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over the Sahara also included the announcement of the United States ’intention to open a consulate in the city of Dakhla in the Moroccan Sahara, while the Moroccan press reported on a package of “massive” American investments in the region.
While the Polisario Front condemned the demand for the independence of the Sahara and Algeria, which is supported by the US, their position remains isolated with the important successes of Moroccan diplomacy in recent times.