Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid touched down in Morocco today along with several Israeli officials for two days of meetings with their Moroccan counterparts in order to prepare for the opening of the Israeli liaison office in Rabat, the Moroccan capital.
This visit is designed to strengthen Moroccan-Israeli relations since the two countries signed a peace agreement in December. The decision to normalize relations and join the Abraham Accords along with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan was announced in a tweet by former U.S. President Donald Trump on Dec. 10.
Lapid will meet his Moroccan counterpart Nasser Bourita marking the first official Israeli visit by an Israeli minister since 2003.
“This historic visit is a continuation of the longstanding friendship and deep roots and traditions that the Jewish community in Morocco, and the large community of Israelis with origins in Morocco, have,” Lapid said in a statement. “It will be a moment for political and economic activity, and we will continue to work toward agreements that will bring innovation and opportunity to our countries,” he said. “It will be a moment for political and economic activity, and we will continue to work toward agreements that will bring innovation and opportunity to our countries.”
More than 1 million Israelis have Moroccan roots and regularly travel to the North African country. As well, an estimated 4,000 Jews live in Morocco alongside their Muslim neighbors in one of the best examples of coexistence of any other Arab country.
One of the conditions of the normalization agreement between Morocco and Israel was contingent upon the U.S. recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over the disputed Western Sahara region with the Algerian-backed Polisario Front.
Both nations are already experiencing some of the benefits of normalization. A Moroccan air force plane reportedly took part in a multinational Israeli Air Force exercise last month. Israel reclaimed observer status in the African Union. And, despite the fact that Israel is still closed to individual tourists, the first direct commercial flights between Israel and Morocco began in July.
The two countries are opening diplomatic missions rather than embassies, for now.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.