The State of Israel hosted a military leader from an Arab nation at an official reception for the first time, signifying the immense changes that continue to shape the Middle East.
Israel’s chief of staff, Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, welcomed Lt.-Gen. Belkhir El Farouk, inspector general of the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces in Tel Aviv with an honor guard at the Moroccan general’s arrival for the Israel Defense Force’s first week-long International Operational Innovation Conference, which began Monday.
Delegations from 25 countries are expected to attend the conference throughout the week, with the IDF saying that the conference “will lay the foundations for solid cooperation in the field of multi-dimensional defense and military renewal.”
Morocco normalized relations with Israel in December 2020 as part of the Abraham Accords. Since their normalization, cooperation between the two countries has flourished in various fields, including defense.
In July, Israel’s chief of staff visited Morocco – accompanied by the IDF’s International Cooperation Division commander, Brig.-Gen. Effie Defrin, and Military Intelligence Research Department head, Brig.-Gen. Amit Saar – on the first official trip of an Israeli military leader to the North African country.
The Israeli entourage met both with El Farouk and with Moroccan Defense Minister Abdellatif Loudiyi.
The knowledge-sharing visit “is part of the IDF’s overall efforts to broaden military cooperation with other countries,” an IDF statement said at the time, noting that the visit “is in addition to recent meetings and cooperation between the two countries, as part of the advancement of military-security cooperation between the State of Israel and the Kingdom of Morocco.”
Last November, Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz – during the first visit by an Israeli defense minister to Morocco – signed a memorandum of understanding, or defense agreement, with his Moroccan counterpart that formalized Moroccan-Israeli intelligence-sharing and military cooperation, and smoothed the way for Israeli arms exports to the North African country.
The MOU began the process of official security cooperation between Morocco and Israel.
According to the Israeli Defense Ministry, “The agreement includes formalizing intelligence-sharing and will allow for ties between their defense industries, defense procurement and joint exercises.”
Gantz, at the time, marked the agreement as “a very significant development,” saying it would “enable us to work on joint projects and promote industrial cooperation.”
Looking to the future, the defense minister emphasized that “relations between Israel and Morocco should be expanded and enhanced.”
This March, a delegation of Israeli army officials met with their Moroccan counterparts in Rabat, the Moroccan capital, for the first such visit since the Abraham Accords. During the meeting, they signed an additional military-cooperation agreement.
Following this, Morocco invited Israeli representatives to the kingdom in June as first-time observers of the African Lion 2022, an international military exercise led by the United States Africa Command, AFRICOM, which saw the participation of four other countries – Morocco, Ghana, Senegal and Tunisia.
“Israel’s participation in the exercise is an additional step in strengthening the security relations between the two countries’ defense ministries and militaries,” said a statement of the Israeli Ministry of Defense spokesperson.
In addition to defense, Morocco and Israel have made agreements in the fields of economic cooperation, science and technology, tourism, sports and culture. Furthermore, as part of a pilot project, Moroccan workers will begin to work in Israel’s construction and nursing sectors, where Israel has a shortage of workers.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.