Israel, Morocco celebrate one year of normalization in DC

Ambassador to US Herzog: ‘We are natural partners in a highly turbulent region.’

 Ambassador Herzog and Ambassador Joumala, December 10, 2021.  (photo credit: SHMULIK ALMANY/ISRAELI EMBASSY IN THE US)
Ambassador Herzog and Ambassador Joumala, December 10, 2021.
(photo credit: SHMULIK ALMANY/ISRAELI EMBASSY IN THE US)

WASHINGTON – Israel and Morocco celebrated one year since the signing of the normalization agreement between the two countries. The embassies hosted a joint event on Thursday at the Watergate Hotel, alongside members of Congress, representatives of Jewish organizations, and the State Department’s Acting Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs Yael Lempert.

“For Israel, and for me personally, this is not just another agreement in a series of Israeli-Arab agreements,” said Ambassador to the US Mike Herzog. “This new chapter in our special relationship goes much deeper than aligned geopolitical interests.”

“We are natural partners in a highly turbulent region,” Herzog continued. “When we look at the big regional picture, we see a struggle between two opposing camps: There is a camp that seeks advancement, enlightenment and stability. This camp is geared towards the future and towards providing hope; it focuses on bettering the lives and well-being of people in the region.”

On the other hand, he said, “there stands the radical camp characterized by extreme ideologies who would like to drag our region back to the dark past. This camp thrives on hatred, violence and so-called ‘resistance.’ Israel and Morocco are squarely in the first camp.”

He insisted that “together, we can advance our shared vision for a peaceful, thriving and stable region. I strongly believe that the relations between us, as well as the relations between Jews and Muslims at large, could make a significant contribution in this respect.”

Israeli Ambassador to the US Mike Herzog at the event celebrating one to to normalization with Morocco, December 9, 2021.  (credit: SHMULIK ALMANY/ISRAELI EMBASSY IN THE US)Israeli Ambassador to the US Mike Herzog at the event celebrating one to to normalization with Morocco, December 9, 2021. (credit: SHMULIK ALMANY/ISRAELI EMBASSY IN THE US)

Israel sees Morocco as a very important actor in the Middle East and Africa, he said. “Morocco is a voice of reason, moderation and conciliation. Morocco is an actor that can build bridges across the region and across regions. We in Israel, and I personally, intend to put a lot of effort into deepening and expanding Israeli-Arab and Israeli-Muslim normalization.”

Moroccan Ambassador to the US Princess Lalla Joumala said that “under the stewardship of his majesty the King Mohammed VI a bold step was taken a year ago: to re-establish diplomatic ties with Israel and open a new chapter in our bilateral relations.”

She said that “this normalization between our two countries was the natural evolution of an already rich, multifaceted and longstanding relationship marked by the deep attachment of the kingdom to its Moroccan Jewish community.”

“Over the past few months, we have witnessed new bridges and pathways linking the governments, the private sectors and the peoples of Morocco and Israel, bringing our two countries closer together than ever before,” she said.

 Ambassador of Morocco to the United States Princess Lalla Joumala, December 9, 2021. (credit: SHMULIK ALMANY/ISRAELI EMBASSY IN THE US) Ambassador of Morocco to the United States Princess Lalla Joumala, December 9, 2021. (credit: SHMULIK ALMANY/ISRAELI EMBASSY IN THE US)

Joumala noted that ministerial working groups have been established on issues ranging from diplomacy to science, and that exchange of visits have taken place.

“Our ambassadors in more than 60 capitals are now working closely together, including here in Washington DC, at the United Nations or at the African Union,” said Joumala.

She also noted that during the past year, the Morocco-Israel Business Council and the Morocco-Israel Chamber of Industry and Commerce have been created, and that direct flights have been launched linking the two countries. In addition, promising joint ventures are also on the horizon for the benefits of the two peoples and the wider region.

“The seeds of peace planted over the past year are already starting to bear their fruits, impacting positively on the lives of peoples in the region,” Joumala continued. “It is hard not to be filled with optimism for the future when looking at the enthusiasm and the significant impulse the Trilateral Agreement and the Abraham Accords have generated since 2020.”