Morocco and Israel sign "unprecedented" security agreement

Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz has travelled to Rabat to seal the memorandum

PHOTO/OREN ZIV  -   Benny Gantz, Israel's Minister of Defence

Rabat and Tel Aviv have been working for some time to consolidate relations that are progressing as fast as they are solid. Just three weeks ago it became known that Morocco was close to receiving the Israeli Iron Dome defence system thanks to a hypothetical military agreement that has now become a reality. The trip of the Israeli Defence Minister, Benny Gantz, to the capital of the Alawite kingdom was the definitive step towards the signing of an agreement defined by Israeli officials as "unprecedented" for them.

With this new agreement, Morocco is acquiring high-tech defence systems, including the Iron Dome from Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. Barely a year has passed since the normalisation of diplomatic relations between Morocco and Israel, and cooperation has increased exponentially in the last 11 months. The arrival of Aziz Akhanouch as president of the kingdom has given an added boost to ties with Israel, as did the appointment of David Govrin, former head of Israel's Liaison Office in Rabat, as Israel's ambassador to Morocco.

AFP/JALAA MAREY - A battery of Israel's Iron Dome, designed to intercept and destroy incoming short-range rockets and artillery shells, has been installed at the site of an Israeli military operation.

Mohammed VI's country is one of five Arab countries that maintain full relations with the Israelis. Egypt, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain complete a list that began to gain momentum with the signing of the historic Abraham Accords at the end of 2020. The memorandum now sealed between Morocco and Israel is a further step in strengthening, on the one hand, the kingdom's security armament and, on the other, Tel Aviv's presence in North Africa. Hence the progress in relations between the two countries has been as easy as it has been fast.

Minister Gantz's trip to Morocco is the first by an Israeli defence minister to Morocco. Thanks to this historic meeting with Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita, an agreement has been signed that "will allow Israeli exports to Morocco", not only in armaments but also in cybersecurity. The Akhanouch government communiqué notes that the two countries had "a common interest in consolidating relations", which is now achieved with what is a historic memorandum for Israel's ties with Arab countries, represented by one of the regional leaders, Morocco.

AFP/MENAHEM KAHANA - Israeli incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as he arrives at his Likud party's election campaign headquarters to deliver a speech early on September 18, 2019.

The Palestinian issue is one of the reasons that have weighed down and continue to weigh down Israel's relations with the Arabs. The Abraham Accords, promoted by then US President Donald Trump, infuriated Palestine, which, unsurprisingly, categorically rejected the agreements and urged all Arab countries to do the same until peace is achieved and a Palestinian state with its capital in Jerusalem is established. Morocco, while closely following the situation with Palestine, cannot miss the opportunity to strengthen ties with one of the most important countries in the region.

Bruce Maddy-Weitzman, an expert at Tel Aviv University, believes that the Alawi kingdom is "recalibrating" its position because of the significant benefits it stands to gain from Israel, especially at a difficult time for its foreign policy. The severing of diplomatic relations with Algeria makes the search for new relations obligatory, a moment that the Israelis are taking advantage of to move even closer to Rabat. It should not be forgotten that the first step towards the normalisation of Moroccan-Israeli ties was made largely thanks to the recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over the Western Sahara region, which generates even greater closeness in the triangle formed by Washington, Rabat and Tel Aviv.