Israel will soon recognize Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara, Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana said during his visit in Rabat on Thursday.
“I understand the importance of the recognition of Western Sahara,” Ohana said of the disputed region. “Israel should move towards that goal of recognizing the Moroccan Sahara just as our closest ally the US did as it signed the historic Abraham Accords.”
Ohana revealed that “there are currently serious discussions between our governments on that matter, and I believe Prime Minister Netanyahu will be announcing his decision in the near future.”
The Polisario Front, backed by Algeria and Iran, demands an independent state in Western Sahara. In 2020, then-US president Donald Trump recognized Morocco’s claim to the territory in return for upgraded relations with Israel. The countries have since announced that they intend to normalize relations fully.
Winning support for its stand on Western Sahara is the ultimate goal of Moroccan diplomacy, which was boosted by Trump’s recognition and the ensuing support of Western powers, such as former colonial power Spain, for Rabat’s plan of autonomy for the territory.
Speaking to reporters in Rabat after talks with his counterpart, Rachid Tabli Alami, Ohana said that Morocco’s King Mohamed VI was in a position to play a role in bringing peace between Israel and Palestinians.
The king has “trust from all sides and a deep understanding of the area and the challenges we are facing,” Ohana said.As such, Mohamed VI is “in the right position to mediate between the State of Israel and the Palestinian Authority towards peace, which we all wish to see with our own eyes in our lifetime.
“Thanks to his majesty’s groundbreaking, innovative thinking, the vision of peace became closer and with it the prosperity of Moroccans and Israelis alike,” Ohana added, referring to the beginning of normalization between Israel and Morocco in 2020.
Ohana, the third-ranking representative of the State of Israel after the president and prime minister, was in Rabat at Alami’s invitation, and the two signed a memorandum of understanding for parliamentary cooperation.
The Knesset Speaker, whose parents were born in Morocco, opened his statement before local journalists by speaking in Darija (Moroccan Arabic), then put on a kippah and said the shehecheyanu blessing for a momentous occasion.
“This is a new era in Israel-Morocco ties,” Ohana said. “The diplomatic, security, and civil cooperation between the countries are at their height. This historic visit and singing an MOU between the parliaments will pave the way to upgrading the liaison offices to embassies.”
Former foreign minister Yair Lapid announced in 2021 that the offices in Tel Aviv and Rabat would become embassies, but that has yet to happen.
Ohana gave Alami what the Knesset said is the world’s smallest Koran, printed with Israeli nanotechnology tested by scientists at Tel Aviv University. The 230,000-letter text was engraved by jewelry company TANAOR on a silicon chip measuring 4.7 millimeters and 500 microns thick and is housed in a glass box. It requires a microscope with at least 3000x magnification to read.
The Koran is “a symbol of the connection between the past and the future, history, and progress. This gesture exemplifies our respect for tradition and heritage while embracing the possibilities of innovation,” Ohana said.Ohana is expected to meet with Moroccan Foreign Minister Naser Bourita and other senior government officials on Friday.
The Knesset Speaker met with the Jewish community in Rabat on Wednesday and plans to attend Shabbat prayers with the community in Casablanca on Friday night.
Reuters contributed to this report.