Morocco normalises relations with Israel

Morocco has become the latest Muslim nation to agree to normalise relations with Israel in a deal brokered by the U.S.

As part of the deal, the U.S. has agreed to recognise Morocco’s claim over the disputed Western Sahara region.

U.S. President Donald Trump announced the agreement on Twitter on Thursday.

“Another HISTORIC breakthrough today! Our two GREAT friends Israel and the Kingdom of Morocco have agreed to full diplomatic relations – a massive breakthrough for peace in the Middle East!” he wrote.

The White House said Mr Trump and Morocco’s King Mohammed VI had agreed that Morocco would “resume diplomatic relations between Morocco and Israel and expand economic and cultural co-operation to advance regional stability.”

The deal includes the reopening of liaison offices in Tel Aviv and Rabat and the eventual opening of embassies. Officials said Morocco would grant direct flights to and from Israel for all Israelis.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the “historic” agreement, thanked Morocco’s king and said the people of Israel and Morocco have had a “warm relationship in the modern period.”

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In Morocco, a palace statement confirmed the deal, saying King Mohammed VI, in a telephone call with Mr Trump, had agreed to diplomatic relations with Israel “with minimal delay.”

The “measures do not in any manner affect Morocco’s ongoing and sustained commitment to the just Palestinian cause”, a royal statement said.

The statement added that the king had spoken with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and assured him that he “would never relinquish his role in defending the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.” It said the king had reiterated his support for a two-state solution.

Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain issued statements welcoming the deal between Morocco and Israel.

But Palestinian officials condemned the agreement, saying it encouraged Israel’s denial of their rights.

Bassam al-Salhi, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Executive Committee, said: “Any Arab retreat from the [2002] Arab Peace Initiative, which stipulates that normalisation comes only after Israel ends its occupation of Palestinian and Arab lands, is unacceptable and increases Israel’s belligerence and its denial of the Palestinian people’s rights.”

In Gaza, Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said: “This is a sin and it doesn’t serve the Palestinian people. The Israeli occupation uses every new normalisation to increase its aggression against the Palestinian people and increase its settlement expansion.”

And Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, an adviser to Iran’s parliamentary speaker, said on Friday that Morocco’s normalisation of relations with Israel was a “betrayal” and a stab in the back of Palestine.

Previously, Iran also condemned Bahrain and the UAE in their decision to normalise relations with Israel, calling it a shameful move and holding their governments responsible for any insecurity caused by Israel in the Gulf region.

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