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Israel’s recognition of the Moroccan Sahara

Morocco’s king Mohammed VI announces Israeli recognition of Sahara. The King states Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu officially recognizes Moroccan sovereignty over the disputed region. The office of the King announced the new Israeli position. Israel joins the US in recognizing Moroccan sovereignty over Sahara. Former US President Donald Trump recognized Morocco’s sovereignty over the territory in December 2020, after Morocco agreed to normalize its relations with Israel and join the Abraham Accords. The Moroccan Foreign Ministry stated: “HM King Mohammed VI received a letter from the Prime Minister of the State of Israel, H.E. Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, who brought to the Very High Attention of HM the King, the decision of Israel to ‘’recognize the sovereignty of Morocco over the territory of Sahara’’.

Israel’s recognition of the Moroccan Sahara


 A declaration from the Moroccan royal cabinet said King Mohammed VI received a letter from Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, who informed him of Israel’s decision.

In the letter, the Israeli official also said that the Israeli recognition of Morocco’s territorial integrity will be reflected in all relevant acts and documents of the Israeli government.

Netanyahu also informed the Moroccan monarch that Israel’s decision will be communicated to the UN, regional and international organizations of which Israel is a member, as well as to all countries with which Israel maintains diplomatic relations.

Is Netanyahu's Policy Risking the Abraham Accords ?
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg, Pool)

Israel is also examining positively the “opening of a consulate in the city of  Dakhla” and this within the framework of the implementation of this decision,” the letter indicated.

Israel’s recognition comes amid diplomatic gains Morocco has been scoring in the past decade in the Sahara dossier. The main countries in the international community have reflected their support for Morocco’s territorial integrity either through recognition or the opening of representations in the country’s southern provinces in Dakhla and Laayoune.

The Israeli decision to recognize Morocco’s sovereignty over the disputed Sahara region comes a year after Spain officially endorsed the Moroccan Autonomy Plan as the serious and credible solution to end the dispute.

FILE – Former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event, Saturday, July 8, 2023, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

In 2020, then-U.S. President Donald Trump recognized Morocco’s rule over the territory in return for its partial upgrade of relations with Israel. That same year, Israel and Morocco established permanent diplomatic relations as part of the Abraham Accords, and diplomatic missions operate in both countries since.

Israeli recognition of the Western Sahara as part of Morocco could lead to the opening of official embassies, though it may contradict with the Biden administration’s policy – as the U.S. president has yet to follow through on Trump’s promise to open a consulate in the region.

Israel and Morocco have already signed a series of agreements to strengthen bilateral ties, including transportation deals that allow Israelis to use their driving licenses in Morocco, encourage direct shipping between the two, and exchange on matters related to road safety and transport innovation.

In this context, Dr Issam Laaroussi, Director General of Manzourat Center For Geopolitical and Strategic Studies, political Analyst with special focus on MENA region says: the Israel recognition of the Morocco`s sovereignty over the western Sahara is a sensitive and a great deal of the Moroccan Diplomacy which could boosting the kingdom as a main actor in the North Africa region. Since the diplomatic accord signed in 2020, Morocco has showed more skeptical positions to not forwarding the full diplomatic relations with Tel Aviv, due to the flawed Israeli position toward the Moroccanness of the Sahara. The Royal discourse has stressed a clear vision about the strategic partners mentioning that the Sahara is the Glasses through it Morocco could assesses its relations with its  international environment. 

Issam Laaroussi argues that the Israeli recognition will help both the two countries to concretize and capitalize their military, security, economic and cultural relations in terms of shaping a solid partnership and a relevant alliance with gather United stated and the other western and Arabic countries which are supporting Morocco`s integrity. In Addition, the Israeli recognition is a direct and imminent message to Algeria which is striving for multifaceted and doubtful partners.   

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