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Israel reportedly considers recognizing Moroccan claim to disputed Western Sahara

Moroccan soldiers are seen on an earth wall that separates areas controlled by Morocco and the Polisario Front in Western Sahara, September 10, 2016. (Photo: REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra)

The Jewish state is reportedly considering recognizing Morocco’s claim to the disputed Western Sahara region, a move that could potentially upgrade diplomatic ties between the two countries, a source told the Reuters news agency on Wednesday.

Israel and Morocco officially normalized ties in 2020 as part of the American-brokered Abraham Accords peace treaty. The U.S. Trump administration’s recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara reportedly played an instrumental role in the Moroccan-Israeli normalization agreement. 

Daily diplomatic relations are currently managed through liaison offices, however Jerusalem reportedly hopes that recognizing Morocco’s territorial claims will pave the path toward the opening of full embassies and potentially even a free-trade agreement.

The chief of the Israeli diplomatic mission in Rabat, Shai Cohen, told Reuters on Tuesday that the "the final decision will be a decision made by both our ministers."

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen confirmed on Wednesday that he and his Arab counterparts from the Abraham Accords nations would meet in Morocco “within weeks.”

"I hope we will meet very soon in a different desert but with the same spirit," said Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita during last year’s Arab-Israeli ministerial Negev Summit in the United Arab Emirates.

The sparsely populated Western Sahara is approximately the size of Great Britain. Moroccan authorities currently control some 80% of the disputed territory, while the self-declared Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic controls the remaining 20%.

In addition, the Algerian-backed Polisario militia is fighting against Morocco in an effort to establish an independent state in the area.

Moroccan-Israeli relations have developed quickly since Rabat and Jerusalem normalized their ties in 2020. The Israel Defense Forces will take part for the first time in the multinational “African Lion” military exercise in Morocco. The exercise involves some 8000 troops from 18 countries including the United States.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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