President Donald Trump did it again, forging a peace deal between forges peace between Israel and Morocco. This is the fourth time in four months that Trump managed to re-establish ties between Israel and an Arab nation. Prior to this, Trump forged peace deals between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Sudan in August.
Trump tweeted the news through his official account. He wrote Thursday night: “Another HISTORIC breakthrough today! Our two GREAT friends Israel and the Kingdom of Morocco have agreed to full diplomatic relations – a massive breakthrough for peace in the Middle East!” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that “This will be a very warm peace.”
As part of the deal, the United States will recognize Morocco’s claim over the disputed Western Sahara region. Morocco annexed Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony, in 1975. A local group, the Polisario Front, claims independence for the area. The group operates as a government in exile and maintains a military force in nearby Algeria.
Trump followed up his announcement tweet by posting a historical context on the agreement. “Morocco recognized the United States in 1777. It is thus fitting we recognize their sovereignty over Western Sahara,” he tweeted.
The US recognition of Moroccan sovereignty changes the official policy on Western Sahara. By backing Morocco’s claims, the Polisario Front will resume their attacks on Moroccan positions. This can reignite a war that remained suspended since the 1990s due to a ceasefire. However, Morocco said they remain committed to the agreement to lay down arms. Meanwhile, the Polisario say they consider the ceasefire broken.
With US policy now shifting towards Morocco, the US role changed from mediator to one who took sides. Former National Security Adviser John Bolton tried during his tenure to resolve the conflict in 2018. He left office before any breakthroughs in the negotiations materialized.
Resumption of Diplomatic Relations
Trump and Morocco’s King Mohammed VI agreed during a conversation that the kingdom will “resume diplomatic relations between Israel and Morocco and expand economic and cultural cooperation to advance regional stability.” The agreement between Israel and Morocco will restore diplomatic and other relations between the two countries. Liaison offices in Tel Aviv and Rabat will open. They will give way to embassies once relations normalize. Also, both countries agreed to allow joint overflight rights for airlines.
A Moroccan official gave comments on the US recognition of Morocco’s claim to Western Sahara. However, he did not mention the agreement with Israel. The official said that “His Majesty King Mohammed VI has been personally involved and instrumental in this process, and this decision only reasserts Morocco’s sovereignty over this entire territory.”
Morocco’s Jewish Community
Prior to the agreement, Morocco already established ties with Israel through its small Jewish community. Tourism and trade relations already existed because of the community. Due to the mutual distrust of Iran, they also maintained below-the-radar security relations. The late King Hassan II met with Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres in Rabat in 1986. The two tried to normalize relations then but gave up when local and regional opposition became too much. His son, Mohammed II, retained cordial relations with Israel.
Prior to the state of Israel in 1948, Morocco hosted a large Jewish population. Many of the original settlers migrated to the area during the Spanish Inquisition. Today, many Israelis find their roots trace back to Morocco. In particular, an estimated 50,000 Israelis travel to Morocco each year. Most go to visit to trace ancestries or learn more about the history.
The Palestinian Question
With Trump’s facilitation of peace deals with Morocco, efforts by Palestinians to create an independent state grows dimmer. Palestinian leaders do not like the reinstatement of relations between their supposed allies for statehood and their enemy, Israel.
Watch the CNBC News video coverage where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanks President Donald Trump for ‘Historic Peace’ of new Morocco agreement:
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