Morocco's King to Netanyahu: Opening embassies is the 'natural next step'

“This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship,” Netanyahu told the king, quoting from the movie Casablanca.

Meir Ben Shabbat and Jared Kushner meet with King Mohammed VI of Morocco (photo credit: AMOS BEN GERSHOM, GPO)
Meir Ben Shabbat and Jared Kushner meet with King Mohammed VI of Morocco
(photo credit: AMOS BEN GERSHOM, GPO)
In the wake of the signing of the normalization agreement between Israel and Morocco, the opening of embassies would be the "natural next step" of the process, Morocco's King Mohammed VI told Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu in a call last week, Axios reported. 
The King of Morocco responded positively when Israeli National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat raised the embassy issue in a meeting in Rabat two weeks ago.
During their visit to Rabat in which White House Special Advisor Jared Kushner led an Israeli-US delegation, the Israel and Morocco however only committed to reopening the liaison offices.
This week, an Israeli delegation visited Rabat to inspect Israel's former liaison office, which was shut down 20 years ago, but that is still owned by the Israeli government, Axios said, adding that Morocco also held onto its property in Tel Aviv, and a Moroccan delegation made a similar visit there last week to see if the office could be reopened on a short timetable.
If Morocco would rather reopen liaison offices rather than embassies, Axios said, it could be because Morocco was waiting to see if the Biden administration would roll back Trump's recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara before going all the way with Israel.
Israel’s normalizing relations with the royal palace and Morocco’s King Mohammed VI has been a work in progress for many years now. These efforts became public knowledge when the late prime minister and defense minister Yitzhak Rabin openly visited Morocco, which culminated with the opening of liaison offices in Tel Aviv and Rabat. 


Morocco re-established diplomatic relations with Israel in December, within the framework of the Abraham Accords, through which the US had also negotiated normalization agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan.
The US recognized Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara, a disputed former Spanish colony, making it the first country other than Morocco to do so.
Israel and Morocco first forged diplomatic relations in 1994, though the countries had unofficial relations for decades before that. They did not have full diplomatic ties, and the new relations are resuming from that point, moving toward full diplomatic relations.
Morocco broke off ties with Israel for political reasons, namely the outbreak of the Second Intifada and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but the two countries have continued to maintain unofficial relations during the interim years.

The State of Israel has always viewed Morocco as a moderate Arab nation that has immense influence within the Arab world, and King Mohammed VI’s esteem among world leaders, as well as his special status within the Arab League, constitute a tremendous political and strategic advantage for Israel.

Tovah Lazaroff & Ram Ben Barak contributed to this report.