Israel and Morocco have sealed the normalisation of relations with the opening of an Israeli liaison office in the Maghreb capital, Rabat. Seven months after the two countries agreed to re-establish diplomatic relations, broken off in 2000 due to the Second Palestinian Intifada, and thanks to the mediation of the United States and former US President Donald Trump, a senior Israeli diplomat made the first official trip to the North African country in almost two decades.
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid arrived in Rabat with the main objective of further strengthening the renewed relations with the different Arab countries in the framework of the Abraham Accords. Morocco was the last of the three Arab nations that last year decided to establish relations with the Hebrew country in exchange for the United States' recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara. On 22 December last year, former US President Donald Trump scored another historic victory by announcing the normalisation of relations between the two countries.
Seven months after the announcement, relations between Morocco and Israel have taken shape mainly in the economic and tourism spheres. The latest escalation of tension between the Gaza Strip and Israel, which resulted in an 11-day war last May, caused a slight halt in the full establishment of diplomatic relations. The Abraham Accords, sponsored by the former Trump administration and former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, break the historic consensus among Arab countries not to maintain diplomatic relations with the Hebrew country until the Palestinian issue is resolved, which is why the Palestinian population felt the signing of these agreements as a betrayal of their cause. Signatories to the pact include the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and the latest to join the list is Morocco.
Israel, a country isolated in the region as a result of the ongoing conflict with the Palestinian population, has achieved unprecedented recognition in the last year, with four Arab nations establishing relations with the Hebrew country, making five nations in the region that now have diplomatic relations with Israel, plus Egypt and Jordan. The new self-styled 'Government of Change', a coalition government led by Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennet that has succeeded in dethroning Benjamin Netanyahu after 12 years in power, has focused its foreign policy on strengthening the Abraham Accords.
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid became the first senior Israeli diplomat to visit the United Arab Emirates, where he opened Israel's embassy in Abu Dhabi and held meetings with his Bahraini counterpart. The opening of the Israeli liaison office in Rabat is the latest in a series of developments in recent months under the Abraham Accords. But the renewed Israeli-Moroccan relations are set to go further. Yair Lapid, during a press conference in Casablanca, announced that 'relations will be upgraded' and that 'within two months, full embassies will be opened, in Israel and in Rabat'.
Lapid also announced that the opening of both embassies will take place after the inauguration of the direct route between Marrakech and Tel Aviv, which will be operated by the Moroccan state company Royal Air Maroc (RAM). During his visit to the Maghreb country, the Israeli foreign minister met with his Moroccan counterpart, Nasser Bourita, who signed three agreements in the diplomatic, cultural and air transport fields. Lapid also handed Bourita a letter from Israeli President Isaac Herzog addressed to the King of Morocco, Mohammed VI, inviting him to visit the Hebrew country.
The new Israeli foreign minister has stepped on the accelerator in his goal of shoring up the Abraham Accords and strengthening his influence in the region, in order to be able to make a united front against his bitter enemy, Iran. Yair Lapid has predicted that more Arab countries will develop diplomatic relations with Israel in the future, and has announced the opening of an Israeli embassy in Bahrain's capital.