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UN position on Moroccan sovereignty over Sahara ‘unchanged’ by US recognition

Chief Antonio Guterres says he remains committed to resolving territorial dispute based on Security Council resolutions, urges against actions that may aggravate tense situation

A woman supporting pro-independence Polisario Front rebel soldiers walks near a makeshift Western Sahara flag of painted stones reading: 'Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, or SADR, free' in the desert near Tifariti, May 20, 2008. (Daniel Ochoa de Olza/AP)
A woman supporting pro-independence Polisario Front rebel soldiers walks near a makeshift Western Sahara flag of painted stones reading: 'Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, or SADR, free' in the desert near Tifariti, May 20, 2008. (Daniel Ochoa de Olza/AP)

The United Nations said Thursday its position was “unchanged” on the disputed Western Sahara region after the United States recognized Morocco’s sovereignty there.

Washington did so as it announced that Morocco would establish full diplomatic relations with Israel, in what was reported in the media as a quid pro quo.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres believes “the solution to the question can still be found based on Security Council resolutions,” his spokesman said, describing the UN’s position as “unchanged.”

The Western Sahara region is claimed by both Morocco and Polisario Front pro-independence rebels who recently revived their three-decade struggle in the former Spanish territory.

The UN chief’s message to the two parties “is to avoid any action that could further aggravate a tense situation,” added spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

A woman supporting Pro-independence Polisario Front rebel soldiers walks near a makeshift Western Sahara flag of painted stones reading: ‘Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, or SADR, free’ in the desert near Tifariti, May 20, 2008. (Daniel Ochoa de Olza/AP)

The UN deploys a peacekeeping mission to the region to monitor a ceasefire and supposedly to organize a referendum on the territory’s status.

The vote was set for 1992 but was aborted when Morocco objected to the proposed electoral register, saying it was biased.

It then refused to accept any vote in which independence was an option, and said only autonomy was on the table.

The last UN envoy on the dispute resigned in 2019 and has not been replaced.

At the UN, Western Sahara is one of the few issues dealt with by the Security Council on a regular basis but only behind closed doors.

Morocco became the fourth Arab nation this year to recognize Israel, US President Donald Trump announced Thursday, as he in turn fulfilled a decades-old goal of Morocco by backing its sovereignty over Western Sahara.

The US has already brokered normalization between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Sudan.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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