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Israeli airline announces upcoming launch of new Morocco flight destination

An Arkia flight takes off at the Ben Gurion International Airport, outside of Tel Aviv, March 2, 2021. (Photo: Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

Israeli airline company, Arkia, will soon offer direct flights between Israel and the coastal city of Essaouira in Western Morocco, according to an agreement to be signed on Friday.

The announcement is the result of an emerging partnership between Arkia and the Moroccan National Tourist Office (ONMT).

The expanded bilateral tourism ties follow Israel's decision to formally recognize Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara, a contested territory on the northwestern coast of Africa.

David Schenker, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, argues that Jerusalem’s political move was “inevitable” as Israel continues with efforts to forge stronger ties with Rabat.

“Morocco is looking forward to more countries recognizing their sovereignty,” Schenker recently told Al-Monitor news. “This is both productive for the bilateral relationship and something that Morocco values greatly,” he added.

The Jewish state and Morocco established full diplomatic ties in 2020 as part of the American-brokered Arab-Israeli Abraham Accords. However, the countries have a long history of close covert ties that predate formal relations. Hundreds of thousands of Israelis of Moroccan Jewish descent form a natural human bridge between the two countries. High-ranking Israelis of Moroccan Jewish descent include current Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana and Transportation Minister Miri Regev.

The number of Israeli tourists in Morocco increased from 15,600 in the first half of 2019 to more than 38,000 during the corresponding period in 2023, according to statistics compiled by Morocco’s Tourism Observatory.

This number represents a whopping 146% increase in tourists in just four years. The establishment of direct flights has greatly contributed to this positive development.

In addition, more than 55% of electronic visa applications authorized by Moroccan officials were issued to Israeli travelers.

Prior to formal Israel-Morocco diplomatic ties in 2020, Israeli visitors needed to travel to Morocco via a third country, such as France or Italy.

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

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