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Morocco, Israel add legal links to growing list of cooperation deals on Sa’ar visit

Two countries agree to share expertise and digitize their judicial systems while cooperating in fight against organized crime, terrorism and human trafficking

Justice Minister Gideon Sa'ar and his Moroccan counterpart Abdellatif Ouahbi sign a bilateral agreement on legal cooperation in Rabat on July 26, 2022. (Courtesy)
Justice Minister Gideon Sa'ar and his Moroccan counterpart Abdellatif Ouahbi sign a bilateral agreement on legal cooperation in Rabat on July 26, 2022. (Courtesy)

RABAT — Morocco and Israel added legal links to a growing list of cooperation accords since they normalized relations in 2020, during a visit Tuesday by Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar.

Sa’ar signed a judicial accord in Rabat with his Moroccan counterpart Abdellatif Ouahbi.

A joint statement said the two countries would share expertise and modernize their judicial systems through digitalization, while cooperating in the fight against organized crime, terrorism, and human trafficking.

Also on Tuesday, Israel’s Regional Cooperation Minister Esawi Frej, an Israeli Arab whose family originated in Morocco, held talks in Rabat on a cultural exchange program for youths from both countries.

Morocco cut relations with Israel in 2000 following the outbreak of the second Palestinian intifada, but re-established ties two decades later in a deal that saw Washington, under the Trump administration, recognize Rabat’s sovereignty over the disputed Western Sahara.

Morocco laid claim to the Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony with rich phosphate resources and offshore fisheries, after Spain withdrew in 1975.

But the Algeria-backed Polisario Front took up arms to demand independence there, proclaiming the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) in 1976, and fighting a 16-year war with Morocco. Morocco has offered Western Sahara autonomy, but maintains the territory is a sovereign part of the kingdom.

Since Rabat and Jerusalem renewed ties, a steady stream of Moroccan and Israeli officials have visited each others’ countries and signed deals ranging from defense and security to the economy, culture and sports.

Israeli army chief Aviv Kohavi visited Morocco last week, consolidating the strategic and military alliance between the Jewish state and the North African country.

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