Israel and Morocco Agree to Normalize Relations

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For the fourth time in four months, President Trump announced another US-brokered peace deal in the middle east, this time a normalization of relations between the nation of Israel and the Kingdom of Morocco. In his Thursday tweet, Trump declared, “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!”.

The breakthrough, according to NPR, appeared to come as a result of a United States quid pro quo, where in exchange for diplomatic ties between Israel and Morocco the United States would recognize Morocco’s claims over the former Spanish colony Western Sahara. The territory was annexed by Morocco in 1975 and since that time has been subject to an ongoing territorial dispute between Morocco and the land’s indigenous people, the Saharawi. The Saharawi are led by the pro-independence Polisario Front. It was reported by the BBC that in response to the US statement Sidi Omar, the Polisario Front’s representative to the UN, maintained and insisted that Western Sahara’s “legal status is determined solely by international law and UN resolutions”.

Outside of the United State’s recognition of Morocco’s claim to Western Sahara the peace deal also mandated the reopening of liaison offices in Tel Aviv and Rabat (which were closed in 2000 due to a Palestinian uprising) as well as the institution of direct flights between Israel and Morocco. Both parties confirmed the deal with pride following the US announcement. During a Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu thanked President Trump “for his extraordinary efforts to expand peace, to bring peace to Israel and the peoples of the Middle East” as well as Morocco’s King Mohammed VI “for taking this historic decision to bring a historic peace between us.” Similarly, King Mohammed VI stated that they would be entering diplomatic relations with “minimal delay” following a phone call with President Trump.

In September both Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates normalized relations with Israel following signing diplomatic agreements at the White House. The following month Sudan also agreed to normalize relations with Israel as well as open economic and trade ties. While Palestinian officials have lamented these deals as a rejection of their hope for an independent state as well as an “encouragement of a rejection of their rights,” other US officials including Jared Kushner, Trump’s senior adviser, have stated that “this recognition will strengthen America’s relationship with Morocco. It recognizes the inevitable.”