Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday hailed the “historic” news of Israel establishing full diplomatic ties with Morocco, saying that the relationship of the peoples of both countries has long been characterized by “sympathy, respect, fondness and love.”
Two hours after US President Donald Trump announced on Twitter that the North African kingdom and the Jewish state had agreed to normalize relations, Netanyahu and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman met for their traditional candle-lighting ceremony at the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City on the first night of Hanukkah.
“This will be a very warm peace. On this Hanukkah, the light of peace has never shone brighter than today in the Middle East,” Netanyahu said. “I’ve always believed that this historic day would come; I’ve always worked for it.”
He thanked Trump for brokering the Jerusalem-Rabat agreement, which apparently involved Washinton recognizing Moroccan sovereignty over the contested Western Sahara territory.
“President Trump, the people of Israel will be forever indebted to you for your magnificent efforts on our behalf.”
Netanyahu also thanked Moroccan King Mohammed VI for his “historic decision to bring a historic peace” between the two nations.
“The people of Morocco and the Jewish people had a warm relationship in the modern period,” Netanyahu went on. “Everybody knows the tremendous friendship shown by the kings of Morocco and the people of Morocco to the Jewish community there. And hundreds of thousands of these Moroccan Jews came to Israel and they form a human bridge between our two countries and our two peoples — of sympathy, of respect, of fondness and love,” he said.
Israel and Morocco will soon open mutual “liaison offices” and then work towards establishing full diplomatic relations with Israel “as rapidly as possible,” according to announcements from the US, Morocco and Israel.
In 1996, after the signing of the Oslo Accords, Israel and Morocco had so-called liaison offices in each other’s countries, but they were closed after the outbreak of the Second Intifada in 2000.
The two countries will also establish direct aviation links, “giving this bridge of peace an even more solid foundation,” the prime minister said.
Speaking after the Hanukkah lighting ceremony, Friedman delivered brief remarks as well.
“What a perfect night to celebrate the normalization and the light of peace between Israel and Morocco on the festival of lights at a time when the world has been in a dark place for this past year, and we’re all searching for light,” he said.
The Israel-Morocco agreement marked the dawn of a “new era of peace,” the envoy said.