Politics

Morocco Recognizes Israel And Wins Trump Nod On Western Sahara

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Morocco has become the fourth Arab nation this year to recognize Israel, President Donald Trump announced Thursday, as he in turn fulfilled a decades-old goal of Morocco by backing its sovereignty in disputed Western Sahara.

Trump, a staunch backer of Israel, tweeted: “Israel and the Kingdom of Morocco have agreed to full diplomatic relations – a massive breakthrough for peace in the Middle East!”

The White House said Trump spoke by telephone with Morocco’s King Mohammed VI, who was quoted as also agreeing to expand economic and cultural cooperation with Israel.

The U. S. president “recognized Moroccan sovereignty over the entire Western Sahara territory,” where the Algerian-backed Polisario Front contests Rabat’s control, the White House said.

Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and Middle East pointman, said that Morocco and Israel would unshutter liaison offices in Tel Aviv and Rabat, which Morocco closed in 2000 amid the second Palestinian uprising, and would open embassies “in the near future.”

Morocco, which has quietly let in Israeli travelers in recent years, will also permit direct flights with Israel, Kushner told reporters.

Trump — who is expected to leave office on Jan. 20, despite attempts to challenge election results in key states — has racked up historic advances in bringing Israel and Arab states together.

Morocco joins the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan in the White House’s “Abraham Accords” initiative.

The U. S. diplomatic push has allowed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to weaken the Arab world’s previously united front over the Palestinians’ struggle for statehood, with Gulf Arabs sharing the U.S. and Israeli priority of confronting Iran.

Previously, only neighboring Egypt and Jordan had made peace with Israel and, until a few months ago, many doubted that other Arab nations would recognize Israel so long as Netanyahu resists concessions to the Palestinians.

The biggest prize for Washington would be getting Saudi Arabia to normalize ties with Israel. While this still appears to be some way off, Kushner said that Riyadh’s recognition was an “inevitability” even if the timeframe… (Read more)

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