Morocco lays groundwork for liaison office in Israel

The two countries also discuss industrial cooperation.
Tuesday 29/12/2020
Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita looks on during a visit by Israeli envoys to Rabat, Morocco, December 22, 2020. (Reuters)
Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita looks on during a visit by Israeli envoys to Rabat, Morocco, December 22, 2020. (REUTERS)

JERUSALEM--Moroccan officials are in Israel laying the groundwork for the opening of a liaison office in the Jewish state, a source familiar with the matter told AFP on Monday.

The Moroccan “technical” team landed on Sunday, days after the North African kingdom and Israel signed a US-sponsored normalisation agreement in Rabat, the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The team was expected to remain in the country for a few days and would be followed at a later date by a larger delegation, the source added, without providing further details.

Morocco is the third Arab nation this year to establish or resume ties with the Jewish state under US-brokered deals, while Sudan has pledged to follow suit.

Morocco had closed its liaison office in Tel Aviv in 2000, at the start of the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising.

Four bilateral deals were signed last week between Israel and Morocco, centring on direct air links, water management, connecting financial systems and a visa waiver arrangement for diplomats.

Morocco and Israel on Monday also discussed prospects for industrial cooperation and partnership in five sectors.

“This morning, I conducted remote discussions with my Israeli counterpart, Amir Peretz, on the prospects for bilateral industrial cooperation,” Moroccan Industry Minister Moulay Hafid Elalamy tweeted.

The sectors identified include textiles, food industries, applied research in industry, green technologies and renewable energy, he added.

Last Friday, the office of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said he had invited Moroccan King Mohammed VI for a visit during a phone call.

While welcoming the resumption of relations with Israel, the King said Morocco’s position regarding Palestine remains unchanged.

The kingdom has North Africa’s largest Jewish community of about 3,000 people, and Israel is home to 700,000 Jews of Moroccan origin.