Push is on for full Israeli-Moroccan ties, now that relations resumed

The US delegation did not return to Tel Aviv.

Israel's National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat is seen speaking in Rabat during a joint US-Israeli delegation to Morocco on December 22, 2020. (photo credit: DAVID AZAGURY/US EMBASSY JERUSALEM)
Israel's National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat is seen speaking in Rabat during a joint US-Israeli delegation to Morocco on December 22, 2020.
Israeli officials are pushing for full diplomatic ties with Morocco now that relations have been resumed after a 20-year hiatus.
Israel's delegation returned from its 24-hour trip to Morocco Wednesday morning where it secured a pledge for the re-opening of liaison offices in Rabat and Tel Aviv, and signed the first four documents signaling the resumption of ties between the two countries that Rabat severed after the outbreak of the Second Intifada in 2000.
"Israel is very happy about the reestablishment of relations," Lior Haiat told The Jerusalem Post upon his return to Israel from Morocco on Wednesday.
"We are on our way to full diplomatic relations," he added.
"We are planning to reopen [Israeli's liaison office in Rabat in the next few weeks and to build the infrastructure of the future relations between the counties and the peoples," he said.
The delegation, led by National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat, left early for Morocco Tuesday morning together with a US delegation headed by White House senior adviser Jared Kushner. The US delegation did not return to Tel Aviv. They flew on the El Al commercial flight between the two countries.
While in Morocco the delegations met with King Mohammed VI, Crown Prince Moulay Hassan, Moroccan Prime Minister Saaededdine Othmani and Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita.
They signed agreements on visa exemptions, water cooperation, finance and aviation including direct flights between the two countries. Documents were also signed between Washington and Rabat with respect to $5 billion financial assistance for development through the US International Development Finance Corporation.
Morocco announced the normalization of ties with Israel earlier this month, under the rubric of the Abraham Accords. Unlike the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain which ratified normalization deals with Israel and Sudan which declared its intent to do so.
Morocco differs from the other three Abraham Accord countries in that it had low level relations with Israel from 1994-2000, that never reach the status of full diplomatic ties.
Jews have lived in Morocco for almost 2,000 years and many Israelis, including Ben-Shabbat trace their roots back to Morocco.
Now that low level relations have been restored, the goal is to arrive at formal diplomatic relations.
A statement put out by the Palace after the visit affirmed the country's commitment to relations with Israel and emphasized the special connection the country feels both to its own Jewish community and to Moroccan Jews living in Israel.
King Mohammed VI also spoke of the importance of renewed negotiations for a two-state resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
On Tuesday night, Kushner, Ben-Shabbat and Bourita spoke with reporters on the side line of the ceremonies to mark the signing of agreements.
Bourita expressed his firm and unchanged position regarding the Palestinian issue and the need to preserve the special character of the city of Jerusalem for the three religions and the status of His Majesty as President of the Al-Quds Committee and supporting peace and stability in the Middle East.
Morocco acknowledges that the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries is in the interest of the two countries and will serve peace in the region and contribute to the improvement of regional security, Bourita said.
Ben-Shabbat, spoke partially in Arabic when he addressed the media. He also spoke Arabic with the King.
"Relations with Morocco are especially significant, beyond the diplomatic and economic aspects.
"Many Israeli citizens, members of the Moroccan community, have longed for this moment. Like myself, many from the second and third generation of olim from Morocco, who live in Israel, uphold – and are continuing – the heritage of our forefather," Ben-Shabbat said.
Kushner said he was thrilled to "open the door wide to a new era of cooperation."
He noted that the United States also had a long history with Morocco, which recognized the United States in 1777, during its Revolutionary War against Britain.
"Morocco is the first country to recognize America, and that is something that we will never ever forget," Kushner said.
He recalled that as part of the Israeli-Moroccan deal, the Trump administration recognized Moroccan sovereignty over the Western Sahara.
"Genuine autonomy is the only feasible option, but it will take work. We urge all parties to constructively engage with the United Nations to move forward through the negotiations. We look forward to opening a US consulate in Dakhla, to further advance diplomatic efforts and enjoy the tangible benefits to Moroccans Southern provinces and beyond," he added.
Kusher created US President Donald Trump's vision with transforming the Middle East through the Abraham Accords.
"I do believe that it’s really just the beginning of what we have the ability to achieve," Kushner said.
Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report.