Israel–Morocco normalization agreement

Last updated

Israel–Morocco normalization agreement
American-Israeli delegation visit to Morocco, December 2020 4335P (50749223147).jpg
22 December 2020 Joint Declaration among the Kingdom of Morocco, State of Israel, and United States of America
TypeNormalization agreement
MediatorsFlag of the United States.svg  United States
Parties

The Israel–Morocco normalization agreement is an agreement announced by the United States government on December 10, 2020, in which Israel and Morocco agreed to begin normalizing relations. On December 22, 2020, a joint declaration was signed pledging to quickly begin direct flights, promote economic cooperation, reopen liaison offices and move toward "full diplomatic, peaceful and friendly relations." Morocco officially recognized Israel in its communication to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The agreement followed Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Sudan also signing normalization agreements with Israel in September and October 2020. Along with Egypt and Jordan, Morocco became the sixth Arab League country to normalise ties with Israel. As part of the agreement, the United States agreed to recognize Morocco's claim to the disputed Western Sahara territory while urging the parties to "negotiate a mutually acceptable solution" using Morocco's autonomy plan as the only framework.

Contents

Background

King of Morocco Mohammed VI The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi meeting the King Mohammed VI of Morocco, on the sidelines of the 3rd India Africa Forum Summit 2015, in New Delhi on October 29, 2015 (cropped).jpg
King of Morocco Mohammed VI

Morocco had a large Jewish population of about 250,000 to 350,000 Jews (10% of the population) [1] [2] prior to Israel's establishment in 1948, and hundreds of thousands of Israeli Jews have lineage that traces to Morocco. [3] Morocco was formally at war with Israel starting in 1948, which culminated in the Moroccan 1948 riots of Muslims in Oujda and Jerada against Jews, leading in turn to widespread Moroccan Jewish emigration; in 2020 the Jewish population in Morocco numbered approximately 2,000. [4] [5] [6] Hundreds of Moroccan soldiers died as they attacked Israel in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. [6]

The two countries have long had informal ties, establishing low-level diplomatic relations during the 1990s following Israel's interim peace accords with the Palestinians, which were suspended after the start of the Al-Aqsa Intifada in 2000. The two countries have maintained informal ties since then, with an estimated 50,000 Israelis traveling to Morocco each year. [7]

The agreement was negotiated by a team led by Jared Kushner, a Senior Advisor to the President of the United States, and Avi Berkowitz, a Special Representative for International Negotiations. [7] Kushner and Berkowitz have been speaking with the Moroccan government for over two years, suggesting normalization of relations with Israel in exchange for US recognition of Morocco's claim to Western Sahara. When Kushner visited Morocco in May 2019, King Mohammed VI raised the issue of US recognition of Western Sahara, emphasizing the importance of this issue to Morocco. [8]

A main push factor for the deal and Israel's other normalization agreements in 2020 is that it facilitates a united front against Iran to reduce its influence in the region. [7] Morocco has viewed Iran as a threat, and cut ties with it in 2018 because Iran funded Western Sahara separatist movement the Polisario Front via Hezbollah. [9]

The agreement followed Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Sudan also signing normalization agreements with Israel in September and October 2020. [10] Along with Egypt and Jordan, Morocco became the sixth Arab League country to normalise ties with Israel. [10]

Agreement

Morocco (in dark green) and Israel (within the yellow circle) Morocco Israel Locator.svg
Morocco (in dark green) and Israel (within the yellow circle)

Under the agreement, initially announced by the White House on 10 December 2020, [11] Morocco will establish full diplomatic relations and trade relations and resume official contacts with Israel, and direct flights will be made between the two countries. [12] Morocco officially recognized Israel in its communication to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. [3] According to Kushner: "They are going to reopen their liaison offices in Rabat and Tel Aviv immediately with the intention to open embassies." [13] Minister Delegate Mohcine Jazouli of the Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said "Judaism is embedded in Moroccan culture," and that Jewish history would "appear in school textbooks and would soon be taught." [14] Serge Berdugo, secretary-general of the Council of Jewish Communities of Morocco, said that the decision to teach Jewish history and culture in Moroccan schools "has the impact of a tsunami; [it] is a first in the Arab world." [2]

On December 22, 2020, Senior Advisor to the U.S. President Jared Kushner and Israel's National Security Advisor Meir Ben-Shabbat, whose family immigrated to Israel from Morocco, were among the high-level officials who boarded a flight from Israel to Rabat, Morocco, to sign a joint declaration pledging to start direct flights between the two countries, promote economic cooperation, reopen liaison offices, and move toward full diplomatic relations. [15] [16] The US also agreed to recognize Morocco's claim to the disputed Western Sahara territory while urging the parties to negotiate "using Morocco’s autonomy plan as the only framework to negotiate a mutually acceptable solution." "The US recognizes Moroccan sovereignty over the entire Western Sahara territory and reaffirms its 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,” Trump said. [17] [3] Kushner called on both sides to work with the U.N. in implementing a proposal to give the people of the territory broad autonomy. [15] The US said it intends to open a consulate in Dakhla in Western Sahara. [18]

On December 11, 2020, according to sources, it became known that the US was nearing the sale of at least four large sophisticated MQ-9B SeaGuardian drones to Morocco, the sale of which must be approved by members of Congress. It is not known whether the deal, which has been in the works for months, is related to the normalization agreement. [19]

Reactions

United States

Joint U.S.-Israeli delegation meets with King Mohammed VI of Morocco on December 22, 2020 American-Israeli delegation visit to Morocco, December 2020 4234P (50749125151).jpg
Joint U.S.-Israeli delegation meets with King Mohammed VI of Morocco on December 22, 2020
President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner and Israel's National Security Advisor Meir Ben-Shabbat led a joint U.S.-Israeli delegation to Morocco American-Israeli delegation visit to Morocco, December 2020 4384P (50749122571).jpg
President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner and Israel's National Security Advisor Meir Ben-Shabbat led a joint U.S.-Israeli delegation to Morocco

US Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, stated: "Today is a wonderful day for Morocco and Israel... I've long advocated that if the United States is unequivocal and clear that we stand with our Israeli allies and against our mutual enemies, our regional allies will come together to the benefit of our own national security and the safety of the American people." [20] Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) stated: "I commend our friend and partner, the Kingdom of Morocco, for establishing diplomatic relations with Israel. Morocco’s decision is another vital step towards peace in the Middle East and Africa." [21] Former Senator Norm Coleman (R-Minnesota) called the agreement "historic" and an "important step towards greater stability and peace in the region." [22]

US Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) sharply criticized the Trump administration for recognizing Morocco's claim to Western Sahara. Inhofe described the decision as "shocking and deeply disappointing," adding that he was "saddened that the rights of the Western Saharan people have been traded away." [23] Former National Security Advisor John Bolton also criticized Trump for recognizing Morocco's claim, writing on Twitter that "Trump was wrong to abandon thirty years of US policy on Western Sahara just to score a fast foreign policy victory." [24]

United Nations

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres welcomed the agreement, but reserved judgment on the Western Sahara, according to a spokesman. [25] The UN said that its position on Western Sahara was "unchanged" following the US announcement, with a spokesperson of Guterres suggesting that "the solution to the question can still be found based on Security Council resolutions." [26] On December 21, 2020, following a closed door session of the security council, the South African ambassador said "We believe that any recognition of Western Sahara as part of Morocco is tantamount to recognizing illegality as such recognition is incompatible with international law." [27]

Arab countries

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi welcomed the announcement, saying that the deal was an "important step towards more stability and regional cooperation" in the Middle East. Abu Dhabi’s crown prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan wrote on Twitter: "This ... contributes to strengthening our common quest for stability, prosperity, and just and lasting peace in the region." [28] Bahrain and Oman praised the agreement. [29] [30] Tunisian Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi said: "We respect Morocco’s choice". [31] Saudi Arabia's King Salman said "We support the efforts of the current US administration to achieve peace in the Middle East." [32]

Algerian Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad expressed his country's dissatisfaction with Morocco's normalization of its relations with Israel, remarking there is "a desire to bring the Israeli and Zionist entity to our borders." [33] For its part, the Movement of Society for Peace (HAMS), the largest Islamic party in Algeria, considered the normalization of Morocco's relations with Israel as a "sinister decision", and a "threat to the Maghreb countries to introduce them into the cycle of unrest that was far from them, and to bring to the enemy's intrigue on our borders". [34] As for the U.S. recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara, Algeria said it "has no legal effect because it contradicts U.N. resolutions, especially U.N. Security Council resolutions on Western Sahara". [35]

Others

Iran condemned Morocco's normalization of relations with Israel. A senior Iranian official said the normalization was a "betrayal and a stab in the back of Palestinians". [36]

Spanish Foreign Affairs Minister Arancha González Laya said that the country welcomed the normalization of relations, but rejected the US's recognition of Morocco's claim to Western Sahara. [26] Russia welcomed the restoration of diplomatic ties between the countries but condemned Trump's decision to recognize Morocco's sovereignty over Western Sahara, saying it breaches international law. [36] [37]

See also

Related Research Articles

Morocco is a member of the United Nations and belongs to the African Union, Arab League, Arab Maghreb Union (UMA), Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the Non-Aligned Movement and the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN_SAD). Morocco's relationships vary greatly between African, Arab, and Western states. Morocco has had strong ties to the West in order to gain economic and political benefits. France and Spain remain the primary trade partners, as well as the primary creditors and foreign investors in Morocco. From the total foreign investments in Morocco, the European Union invests approximately 73.5%, whereas, the Arab world invests only 19.3%. Many countries from the Persian Gulf and Maghreb regions are getting more involved in large-scale development projects in Morocco.

Foreign relations of Israel Overview of relations

Foreign relations of Israel refers to diplomatic and trade relations between Israel and other countries around the world. Israel has diplomatic ties with 164 of the other 192 UN member states as of December 2020. Israel is a member of the United Nations and a number of other international organisations. Israel maintains full diplomatic relations with two of its Arab neighbours, Egypt and Jordan, after signing peace treaties in 1979 and 1994 respectively. In 2020, Israel signed agreements establishing diplomatic relations with four Arab League countries, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Sudan and Morocco.

Foreign relations of Mauritania

The foreign relations of The Islamic Republic of Mauritania have been dominated since independence by the issues of the Spanish Sahara as well as recognition of its independence by its neighbors, particularly Morocco. Mauritania's foreign relations are handled by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, and its current foreign minister is Ahmed Ould Teguedi.

Morocco–United States relations Diplomatic relations between the Kingdom of Morocco and the United States of America

Morocco–United States relations are bilateral relations between Morocco and the United States.

Israel–United Arab Emirates relations Diplomatic relations between the State of Israel and the United Arab Emirates

Israel–United Arab Emirates relations had been cool for several decades, but in the 2010s, the countries' informal relations improved considerably and they began engaging in extensive unofficial cooperation based on their joint opposition to Iran's nuclear program and regional influence. In 2015, Israel opened an official diplomatic mission in Abu Dhabi to the International Renewable Energy Agency.

Bahrain–Israel relations Diplomatic relations between the Kingdom of Bahrain and the State of Israel

The relations between Bahrain and Israel refers to the relations between Bahrain and Israel since Bahrain achieved independence in 1971. In recent years, relations between the two countries have been thawing, and the countries agreed to establish diplomatic relations in September 2020. The foreign minister of Bahrain Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa has been quoted saying "Israel is part of the heritage of this whole region, historically. So, the Jewish people have a place amongst us." The common threat of Iran has provided common ground for a thaw in what was once tense relations. Bahrain's foreign policy traditionally supports the creation of an independent Palestinian state.

Israel–Kosovo relations Diplomatic relations between the State of Israel and Kosovo

Israel–Kosovo relations refer to bilateral relations between Israel and Kosovo. Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia on 17 February 2008. Israel and Kosovo agreed on 4 September 2020, as part of negotiations for the Kosovo and Serbia Economic Normalization agreements, to mutually recognize each other. It was initially reported that the mutual recognition had not yet gone into effect at that point, and Israel's recognition of Kosovo was expected to be formally declared "in the coming weeks". However on 21 September the ambassador of Israel to Serbia, Yahel Vilan, confirmed that Israel had indeed recognized Kosovo on September 4, 2020. The two countries established diplomatic relations on February 1, 2021.

International recognition of Israel Overview of states recognizing Israel

The State of Israel was established by the Israeli Declaration of Independence on 14 May 1948. As of December 2020, Israel has received international recognition by 164 of the other 192 UN member states. Besides not having diplomatic relations, Israel's sovereignty is disputed by some countries.

Israel–Morocco relations

Israeli-Moroccan relations are the official relations between the State of Israel and the Kingdom of Morocco.

Israel–Sudan relations Diplomatic relations between the State of Israel and the Republic of the Sudan

Israel and Sudan relations refers to diplomatic ties between Israel and Sudan. Officially, up until 2020, the two countries did not have bilateral relations, but according to Israeli Deputy Minister for Regional Cooperation Ayoob Kara, they maintained covert ties. On October 23, 2020, Israel and Sudan announced the establishment of formal bilateral ties for the first time, making Sudan the fifth Arab nation, after Egypt, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain, to fully recognize the State of Israel.

The Arab-Israeli alliance against Iran, also known as Israeli–Sunni Coalition, or Israeli–Sunni Alliance, is an anti-Iranian unofficial coalition in Western Asia, nurtured by the United States. The coordination is taking place in light of the mutual regional security interests of Israel and mostly Sunni Arab States led by Saudi Arabia, and their standoff against Iranian interests across the Middle East - the Iran–Israel proxy conflict and the Iran–Saudi Arabia proxy conflict. The Arab states participating in the coordination group are the core of the Gulf Cooperation Council. Those include Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Oman.

Trump peace plan Israel–Palestine peace proposal in 2020 by Trump administration

The Trump peace plan, officially titled "Peace to Prosperity: A Vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People", was a proposal by the Trump administration to resolve the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Donald Trump formally unveiled the plan in a White House press conference alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on 28 January 2020, although no Palestinian authorities were invited for negotiations.

Avi Berkowitz American attorney and political adviser

Avrahm "Avi" Berkowitz is an American attorney and political adviser who served as the Assistant to the President and Special Representative for International Negotiations from 2019 to 2021. He was an advisor to Jared Kushner in the Trump administration and worked on the Trump peace plan and the Abraham Accords.

Israel–United Arab Emirates normalization agreement 2020 agreement between Israel and the UAE

The Israel–United Arab Emirates normalization agreement, officially the Abraham Accords Peace Agreement: Treaty of Peace, Diplomatic Relations and Full Normalization Between the United Arab Emirates and the State of Israel, was initially agreed to in a joint statement by the United States, Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on August 13, 2020, officially referred to as the Abraham Accords. The UAE thus became the third Arab country, after Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994, to agree to formally normalize its relationship with Israel, as well as the first Persian Gulf country to do so. Concurrently, Israel agreed to suspend plans for annexing parts of the West Bank. The agreement normalized what had long been informal but robust foreign relations between the two countries. The agreement was signed at the White House on September 15, 2020. It was approved unanimously by the Israeli cabinet on October 12 and was ratified by the Knesset on October 15. The UAE parliament and cabinet ratified the agreement on October 19.

Abraham Accords A tripartite statement by the US, Israel, and the UAE

The Abraham Accords are a joint statement between Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States, reached on August 13, 2020. Subsequently the term was used to refer collectively to agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, respectively.

Kosovo and Serbia economic normalization agreements (2020) Kosovo and Serbia Economic Normalization

The Kosovo and Serbia economic normalization agreements are a pair of documents in which Kosovo and Serbia agreed to facilitate economic normalization among themselves. The documents were signed by the Prime Minister of Kosovo Avdullah Hoti and the President of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić on September 4, 2020 at the White House, in the presence of the US President Donald Trump.

Bahrain–Israel normalization agreement 2020 agreement between Israel and Bahrain

The Bahrain–Israel normalization agreement, officially Abraham Accords: Declaration of Peace, Cooperation, and Constructive Diplomatic and Friendly Relations is an agreement to normalize diplomatic and other relations between Bahrain and Israel. The agreement was announced by President Donald Trump on September 11, 2020, and followed on from a joint statement, officially referred to as the Abraham Accords, by the United States, Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on August 13, 2020. It was formally signed on September 15, 2020, at the White House in Washington, D.C., and made Bahrain the fourth Arab state to recognize Israel and the second within a month.

The Israel–Sudan normalization agreement is an agreement that took place on October 23, 2020, whereby Israel and Sudan agreed that they will normalize relations. It is not clear if the deal establishes full diplomatic relations between the two nations. The agreement came after the agreements of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates signed with Israel in September 2020. Unlike the latter two, Sudan had sent troops to fight against Israel in major Arab-Israeli wars and considered Israel an enemy state.

The Arab–Israeli normalization refers to the peace efforts and treaties between the Arab League and Israel, ending the Arab–Israeli conflict. Since the 1970s, there has been a parallel effort made to find terms upon which peace can be agreed to in the Arab–Israeli conflict and also specifically the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Over the years numerous Arab League countries have signed peace and normalization treaties with Israel, beginning with the Egypt–Israel peace treaty (1979). Despite the failure to implement the Israeli-Lebanese peace accords (1983), more treaties continued with the Israeli-Palestinian peace process (1991-present), Jordan–Israel peace treaty (1994), Abraham accords between Israel and UAE & Bahrain (2020) and Israel–Sudan normalization agreement (2020). Moreover, numerous Arab League members established semi-official relations with Israel, including Oman and Saudi Arabia.

References

  1. Stearns, Peter N. (ed.). Encyclopedia of World History (6th ed.). The Houghton Mifflin Company/Bartleby.com. p. 966
  2. 1 2 "Moroccan schools to teach Jewish history and culture". Arab News. December 13, 2020.
  3. 1 2 3 Ray Hanania (December 10, 2020). "Trump announces Morocco and Israel will normalize relations". Arab News.
  4. "Oujda & Djerada Victims". www.sephardicgen.com.
  5. "Moroccan schools teach Jewish history in groundbreaking first". Haaretz. Retrieved December 31, 2020.
  6. 1 2 "Morocco was already a welcome place 40 years before normalizations". The Jerusalem Post. December 17, 2020.
  7. 1 2 3 "Israel, Morocco agree to normalise relations in US-brokered deal". Al Jazeera. December 10, 2020. Retrieved December 19, 2020.
  8. Ravid, Barak. "Fallout between Trump and top GOP senator made Morocco-Israel deal possible". Axios. Retrieved December 19, 2020.
  9. "Morocco, Israel normalize ties as US recognizes Western Sahara". The Jerusalem Post. December 11, 2020. Retrieved February 4, 2021.
  10. 1 2 "Morocco latest country to normalise ties with Israel in US-brokered deal". December 10, 2020 via BBC.
  11. "Morocco Joins List of Arab Nations to Begin Normalizing Relations With Israel". NYT. December 10, 2020.
  12. Hekking, Morgan (December 15, 2020). "Jared Kushner to Take First Israel-Morocco Commercial Flight Next Week". Morocco World News.
  13. "Morocco joins other Arab nations agreeing to normalize Israel ties". Reuters. December 10, 2020. Retrieved December 10, 2020.
  14. "i24NEWS". www.i24news.tv.
  15. 1 2 "Kushner joins Israelis on landmark visit to Morocco". Yahoo.
  16. "Kushner joins Israelis on landmark visit to Morocco". Associated Press. December 22, 2020.
  17. Jakes, Lara; Kershner, Isabel; Alami, Aida; Halbfinger, David M. (December 10, 2020). "Morocco Joins List of Arab Nations to Begin Normalizing Relations With Israel". The New York Times. ISSN   0362-4331 . Retrieved December 20, 2020.
  18. Kestler-D'Amours, Jillian. "US recognised Morocco's claim to Western Sahara. Now what?". Al Jazeera. Retrieved December 21, 2020.
  19. "Exclusive-Trump administration moves forward with $1 billion Moroccan arms deal". Reuters. December 11, 2020.
  20. "Sen. Cruz Applauds Morocco's Decision to Normalize Relations with Israel | Ted Cruz | U.S. Senator for Texas". www.cruz.senate.gov.
  21. "Cotton Statement on Agreement Between Israel and Morocco | U.S. Senator Cotton of Arkansas". www.cotton.senate.gov.
  22. "Jewish, pro-Israel groups react to Morocco agreeing to normalize ties with Israel". B'nai B'rith International.
  23. Levine, Marianne (December 10, 2020). "Inhofe slams Trump administration on Western Sahara policy". POLITICO. Retrieved December 11, 2020.
  24. Lejeune, Tristan (December 13, 2020). "Trump faces bipartisan, international pushback on Western Sahara recognition". TheHill. Retrieved December 19, 2020.
  25. LEE, MATTHEW (December 10, 2020). "Israel, Morocco to normalize ties; US shifts W Sahara policy". New Haven Register.
  26. 1 2 "'Doesn't serve Palestinians': Israel-Morocco to normalise ties". Al Jazeera. Retrieved December 12, 2020.
  27. "U.N. Security Council talks Western Sahara after Trump policy switch". December 22, 2020.
  28. Holland, Steve (December 10, 2020). "Morocco joins other Arab nations agreeing to normalize Israel ties" via Reuters.
  29. Muhammed Semiz (December 11, 2020). "Oman welcomes Morocco, Israel normalization; Oman becomes 4th Arab country to welcome Moroccan-Israeli normalization after Egypt, UAE, Bahrain", Anadolou Agency.
  30. "Egypt, Bahrain and UAE praise US-brokered normalization between Israel, Morocco". Times of Israel.
  31. "Normalisation with Israel 'not on agenda', says Tunisian PM; Hichem Mechichi says his country respects Morocco's recent choice to establish diplomatic relations with Israel but will not follow suit". Al Jazeera.
  32. Ali Harb. "Arab states are forging ties with Israel to please US, Ted Cruz says". Middle East Eye.
  33. "Algeria decries neighbor Morocco's normalized Israel ties". Associated Press . December 12, 2020. Retrieved January 5, 2021.
  34. "الجزائر: التطبيع بين المغرب وإسرائيل يستهدف استقرار البلاد". Deutsche Welle (in Arabic). December 12, 2020. Retrieved January 5, 2021.
  35. "Algeria rejects Trump's stance on Western Sahara". Reuters. December 12, 2020.
  36. 1 2 "Russia Says U.S. Backing for Moroccan Claim on Western Sahara Breaches International Law". Haaretz. December 11, 2020.
  37. "Russia condemns US recognition of Morocco's claim to Western Sahara". Al Arabiya English. December 11, 2020. Retrieved December 29, 2020.