A top Israeli defense official says Jerusalem and Rabat will begin cooperating deeply on security issues following the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the two countries.
“The agreement that we signed will allow us to cooperate — with exercises, with information. This is an agreement that will allow us to assist them with whatever they need from us, in accordance, of course, with our own interests. We have a strategic alliance of knowledge,” says Zohar Palti, the head of the Defense Ministry’s Political-Military Bureau, speaking to reporters on the sideline of Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s visit to Rabat.
For Israel, the renewed ties with Morocco do not have immediate, practical significance for national security in the way that its newfound relationships with Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates do, working with Israel against their shared enemy, Iran. However, the relationship is considered of potentially greater importance, given the two countries’ natural ties, with some 700,000 Jewish Israelis having Moroccan roots.
“Israel is indebted to Morocco, which for years accepted Jews, protected them, and protected their heritage. That is the basis [for the relationship],” Palti says.
Israel and Morocco formally developed ties in the early 1990s, but Rabat officially halted them in 2000 with the outbreak of the Second Intifada. However, unofficially, the two countries maintained a degree of contact through their respective intelligence services.
“We must give credit to the generations of people from security services and other branches who built the infrastructure that we have here,” Palti says.