Israeli police chief makes first official visit to Morocco

The Kingdom receives for the third consecutive week the visit of Israeli representatives, as the two powers continue to strengthen their relations in the framework of the Abraham Accords

REUTERS/AMIR COHEN  -   Israel's police chief Yaakov Shabtai presents to the media a laser system aimed at intercepting incendiary balloons launched by Palestinians across the border from the Gaza Strip, during a presentation in southern Israel near the Israel-Gaza border on August 30, 2020

After the visit of the Chief of Staff of the Israeli Army, Lieutenant General Aviv Kohavi, during the week of 20 July, and that of the Hebrew Ministers of Regional Cooperation and Justice, Issawi Frej and Gideon Sa'ar, last week, Morocco received this Monday another high-ranking Israeli representative. Yaakov Shabtai, the head of the Israeli State Police, travelled to the Moroccan capital of Rabat, which is hosting the official visit of Israeli representatives for the third consecutive week, to work on bilateral cooperation between the two countries. 

"This week we continue with the historic visits, as today we receive the Inspector General of the Israel Police, Mr. Yaakov Shabti, on his first official visit to Morocco. He will be accompanied by the head of the Foreign Relations Department and the head of the Intelligence division. This visit will enhance bilateral cooperation in the field of security and exchange of experiences," the head of Israel's Liaison Office in Morocco, David Govrin, tweeted. 

Yaakov Shabti, accompanied by the heads of the Israeli Police's Intelligence and Foreign Affairs divisions, is expected to meet on this first official visit - which will last until Friday 5 August - with officials from the Royal Moroccan Gendarmerie and the General Directorate of National Security, and to visit police facilities. According to the Hebrew police spokesman, the visit will consolidate bilateral cooperation at the operational, intelligence and investigative levels. 

Finally, on the last day of his stay in Morocco, Shabti's agenda includes a visit to the Mohammed V Mausoleum, where the father and grandfather of King Mohammed VI - Hassan II and Mohammed V, respectively - are buried, as well as a meeting with the Jewish community in Morocco and its institutions.

REUTERS/AMIR COHEN - Israel's police chief Yaakov Shabtai presents a laser system aimed at intercepting incendiary balloons launched by Palestinians across the border from the Gaza Strip to the media during a presentation in southern Israel near the Israel-Gaza border August 30, 2020
Moving forward with a memorandum 

Shabti's visit, which, according to sources close to the meeting, had been in preparation for several weeks, came on the heels of the signing of a memorandum of legal cooperation for the exchange of experience and the joint development of digitised judicial systems. The agreement was made possible last week following a trip by the Israeli heads of Justice, Gideon Sa'ar, and Regional Cooperation, Issawi Frej, and represents the first such pact since the two powers normalised relations in 2020.

Thus, the signing of this agreement between the Moroccan counterpart, Abdellatif Ouahbi, and the Israeli counterpart, Gideon Sa'ar, is in addition to the progress in military cooperation achieved during the visit of Lieutenant General Aviv Kohavi, the first Israeli army chief of staff to make an official visit to the Kingdom, and the bilateral memorandum of understanding for security partnership signed by the Hebrew Minister of Defence, Benny Gantz, in Rabat. 

PHOTO/AFP - Moroccan Justice Minister Abdellatif Wehbe (right) and Israeli Justice Minister Gideon Saar (left) shake hands after signing an agreement in Rabat
Morocco, Israel and the Abraham Accords

For his part, Nasser Bourita, Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation and Moroccan Expatriates, accepted last week the invitation of Issawi Frej, Israeli Minister of Regional Cooperation, to travel to the Hebrew state next September to take part in the second anniversary of the Abraham Accords, which will also be attended by senior officials from other countries, such as the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan. 

Since Rabat and Tel Aviv re-established diplomatic relations at the end of 2020 - after almost 20 years of hostilities due to the second Palestinian Intifada in 2000 - both have worked steadfastly to fulfil their commitment to boost ties and strengthen their cooperation. Especially in the fields of security and trade, through measures such as the reopening of liaison offices, the launch of direct air links and the successive signing of joint agreements and memoranda. 

REUTERS/TOM BRENNE - From left, Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al Zayani, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and United Arab Emirates (UAE) Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed display their copies of the signed agreements as U.S. President Donald Trump looks on as they participate in the Abraham Accords signing ceremony in Washington

The role of Donald Trump's United States was decisive for this change. Through the three-party documents known as the Abraham Accords, the former Republican president officially recognised Moroccan sovereignty over the territories of Western Sahara in exchange for the Kingdom of Morocco resuming relations with the State of Israel. A pact announced by Washington on 10 December 2020, and finally signed on 22 December 2020.