Jerusalem, Rabat agree to ease visa requirements, bring Moroccans to work in Israel

Interior and Health Minister Moshe Arbel meets counterparts in latest of several high-level visits, as ties between nations deepen; also inks deal for cooperation in health field

Health Minister Moshe Arbel (left) shakes hands with Moroccan Health Minister Khalid Ait Taleb in Rabat on June 16, 2023. (Moroccan Health Ministry)
Health Minister Moshe Arbel (left) shakes hands with Moroccan Health Minister Khalid Ait Taleb in Rabat on June 16, 2023. (Moroccan Health Ministry)

Interior and Health Minister Moshe Arbel visited Morocco over the weekend to visit his counterparts and agree to promote cooperation between the countries on various matters, including easing mutual visa requirements and bringing Moroccans to work in Israel.

In a meeting Friday with Rabat’s interior minister, Abdelouafi Laftit, the ministers agreed to form teams that will promote an agreement to bring foreign workers from Morocco to Israel to be employed as nurses and construction workers, Hebrew media reported.

They also discussed easing visa requirements, as Morocco’s tourism ministry expects 200,000 Israelis to visit the country this year. The ministry says 70,000 Israeli travelers visited last year. Arbel said he intended to expedite the development of an electronic visa system and to have it ready by the end of the year.

Arbel also invited Laftit to Israel.

In his capacity as health minister, Arbel signed a deal with his Moroccan counterpart Khalid Ait Taleb to establish cooperation in the health field between the two nations.

In the memorandum of understanding, the ministers committed to cooperate on matters including innovative medical technology, genetics, fighting non-contagious diseases, readiness for epidemics, and strategic planning of healthcare systems.

“We are deepening our ties with Morocco and pouring more substance into the peace agreement,” said Arbel in a statement released by his office on Saturday. “Israel and Morocco share challenges on health issues, and cooperation in the field will contribute greatly to improving healthcare capabilities and to citizens’ health.”

Arbel was visiting Morocco along with Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar Siman-Tov and Population and Immigration Authority Director Eyal Siso.

Israel has been deepening ties with Morocco on multiple fronts in recent months, including via a range of high-level visits to the nation. Last week, Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana paid a visit, as did National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi.

During his visit, Ohana said Israel should take steps toward recognizing Morocco’s sovereignty over the disputed Western Sahara, adding that “serious discussions” between the countries over the issue are underway and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “will be announcing his decisions in the near future.”

Also last week, the Israel Defense Forces sent a delegation of troops to participate in a major American-led military drill held in Morocco and nearby African nations, a first for the Israeli army.

And earlier this month, Transportation Minister Miri Regev signed three transportation deals to facilitate exchanges between Israel and Morocco while on a visit to the North African country.

Israel and Morocco have steadily built up their relationship since normalizing ties in 2020, part of a series of deals known as the Abraham Accords, backed by the administration of then-US president Donald Trump.

In exchange, Rabat won a key concession from Washington: recognition of its sovereignty over Western Sahara.

Despite opposition from some sectors of the Moroccan public, ties have since continued to develop.

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