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Moroccan king says he hopes ties with Israel will encourage regional peace

Mohammed VI sends missive to Isaac Herzog in response to president’s letter delivered by Yair Lapid last week

Moroccan King Mohammed VI waves to a crowd as he arrives for the opening session of the Moroccan Parliament in Rabat, Morocco, on October 12, 2018. (AP Photo/Abdeljalil Bounhar)
Moroccan King Mohammed VI waves to a crowd as he arrives for the opening session of the Moroccan Parliament in Rabat, Morocco, on October 12, 2018. (AP Photo/Abdeljalil Bounhar)

Morocco’s King Mohammed VI has sent a letter to President Isaac Herzog, in which he expressed hope that renewed ties between the countries will encourage regional peace, the president’s office said on Friday.

In the letter, the king thanked Herzog for his letter, delivered by Foreign Minister Yair Lapid when the latter visited the country last week.

Notably, the king did not give any direct response to Herzog’s invitation to come visit Israel.

“I am pleased with the steps taken for the resumption of contacts between our two countries. I am convinced that we shall make this momentum sustainable in order to promote the prospects of peace for all peoples in the region,” Mohammed wrote, according to Herzog’s office.

Lapid said last Thursday that Israel and Morocco would upgrade their relations to full diplomatic ties and open embassies in each others’ countries within two months.

Speaking at a press conference in Casablanca on the first visit by an Israeli minister since the countries agreed to normalize relations last year, Lapid said that Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita is expected to be aboard the first Royal Air Maroc flight from Morocco to Israel in either October or early November, in order to open the Moroccan Embassy in Tel Aviv.

President Isaac Herzog speaks during a conference organized by the Besheva group in Jerusalem, on August 1, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Trump administration brokered the Israel-Morocco normalization agreement last year, mending ties that were cut off following the outbreak of the Second Intifada in 2000. However, the 2020 deal did not establish full diplomatic relations.

Morocco reportedly hesitated to move forward until it was assured that the Trump administration’s recognition of its sovereignty over the disputed Western Sahara region would be upheld by United States President Joe Biden.

Once the new administration assured Rabat that it would not reverse the recognition, Morocco decided to move forward with the normalization deal, the Walla news site reported

Lapid said that Israel’s diplomatic relations with Morocco, along with those with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Jordan and Egypt, form a strategic regional alliance against Iran.

“This poses a pragmatic alternative to religious extremism. We are creating a cycle of life, in the face of the cycle of death created by Iran and its emissaries,” he said.

The agreement with Morocco came as part of a wave of diplomatic agreements between Israel and Arab states, including the UAE, Bahrain and Sudan. In late June, Lapid made a historic trip to the UAE to open the Israeli embassy in Abu Dhabi and the consulate in Dubai.

Lazar Berman and Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.

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