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Morocco said set to approve aviation, culture and sport agreements with Israel

Moroccan government to discuss deals ahead of ratification; agreements were signed during Lapid’s August visit to Rabat

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (left) and Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita (right) sign three framework agreements in Rabat, on August 11, 2021. (Shlomi Amsalem/GPO)
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (left) and Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita (right) sign three framework agreements in Rabat, on August 11, 2021. (Shlomi Amsalem/GPO)

The government of Morocco, which last year normalized ties with Israel, announced on Saturday that it was set to discuss and then potentially ratify two new agreements signed with Israel in the fields of aviation, as well as culture and sports.

“The [government] meeting will be devoted to the review of two cooperation agreements between the Government of the Kingdom of Morocco and the Government of the State of Israel, signed on August 11, 2021 in Rabat, the first concerning air services with a draft law approving this agreement while the second provides for cooperation in the fields of culture and sports,” the government said in a statement reported by the Agence Marocaine de Presse.

The agreements were originally signed by Foreign Minster Yair Lapid and Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita during the former’s trip to the north African nation in August.

Lapid was in Morocco for the first official visit by an Israeli top diplomat since 2003, and the highest-level trip since an agreement was signed by Jerusalem and Rabat last year to reestablish ties after some two decades.

The Trump administration brokered the Israel-Morocco normalization agreement, 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 current United States President Joe Biden.

Israeli tourists arrive at the Marrakech-Menara International Airport on the first direct commercial flight between Israel and Morocco, on July 25, 2021. (Fadel Senna/AFP)

Once the new administration assured Rabat that it would not reverse the recognition, Morocco reportedly decided to move forward with the normalization deal.

On Sunday, the Foreign Ministry’s appointments committee nominated Israel’s charge d’affaires in Morocco to be the country’s permanent ambassador. David Govrin, who has headed the diplomatic mission in Rabat for the past two months, will now run the fully upgraded embassy.

In August, Lapid inaugurated Israel’s Liaison Office in the Moroccan capital. He added at the time that Bourita was expected to arrive in Israel in either October or early November to open the Moroccan embassy in Tel Aviv.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (right) inaugurates Israel’s Liaison Office in Rabat, Morocco, on August 12, 2021, alongside Moroccan Deputy Foreign Minister Mohcine Jazouli (center) and Welfare Minister Meir Cohen (left). (Shlomi Amsalem/GPO)

The first direct commercial flights between Israel and Morocco took off in July, seven months after the countries agreed to normalize and open reciprocal diplomatic offices.

The agreement with Morocco came as part of a wave of diplomatic agreements between Israel and Arab states, including the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan.

Lazar Berman contributed to this report.

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