Morocco and Israel celebrate two years of normalized relations by Steve Postal
Find Avi Melamed’s commentary on the Morocco & Israel two years of normalized relations as Quoted yesterday (2022-12-27) in:
Just this month, the countries signed a natural gas exploration deal and are working on a “Cyber Iron Dome” to protect computer systems and networks. In Oct. 2022, bilateral trade totaled $12.3 million, up 925% from Oct. 2021. Israel is building a permanent embassy building in Rabat and is set to open a separate trade mission in 2023.
Morocco, Israel and the United States signed a joint declaration in Rabat on Dec. 22, 2020 announcing the opening of a “new era in the relations between the Kingdom of Morocco and the State of Israel.” Twelve days earlier, President Donald Trump had announced that the U.S. had brokered a deal between the two Mediterranean countries, and that the United States had recognized Moroccan sovereignty over the Western Sahara.
The Abraham Accords normalization agreement followed previous agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan.
Diplomatic and geostrategic significance
Avi Melamed, a former Israeli intelligence official and the author of Inside The Middle East: Entering A New Era, told JNS that “given Morocco’s location, normalization with Rabat increases and deepens the potential for cooperation between Israel and countries in West Africa.”
“Indeed, in 2021 Morocco supported Israel rejoining the African Union as an observer. For Israel, gaining observer status in the African Union was a political victory and reflected the improvement of its status on the continent,” he said.
Melamed also sees Moroccan-Israel normalization as important to the United States in countering Russian influence in Algeria and Libya, Iranian influence in North Africa and Islamist influence in North and West Africa.
Two years on, Morocco and Israel have accumulated several key wins in their relationship.
Israel Aerospace Industries and Morocco signed a memorandum of understanding in the aeronautics sector earlier this year.
Sharon Biton, vice president for the MENA region at IAI, told JNS, “Our cooperation with Morocco involves transfer of technology and knowledge to enable Morocco to have its own aerospace ecosystem, which we are very proud of. We are currently working with our partners to establish aeronautics factories in Morocco.”
IAI also signed a memorandum of understanding with the International University of Rabat (UIR) to boost cooperation in scientific research and innovation.
According to Biton, “UIR has expressed interest in various things, including electro-optics. We are looking into more ways to partner with Morocco, including through its universities because while they are not our main clients, we see the opportunity in working together to benefit the next generation. As an Israeli of Moroccan descent, I would love to see Moroccan engineers working shoulder-to-shoulder with Israelis at IAI in mutual development. One way to realize that dream is through cooperation with Moroccan universities.”
Jerusalem and Rabat also signed an MOU on intelligence sharing and security cooperation, and Israel sent observers to the African Lion 2022 military exercise in Morocco. While there, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi discussed cooperation between Israel and Morocco’s air forces.
Lastly, the police forces of Morocco and Israel have increased cooperation. For example, they have agreed to cooperate in investigating instances where Israeli criminals flee to Morocco.
Mutually beneficial partnership
Aviva Steinberger, director of Innovation Diplomacy at Start-Up Nation Central (SNC), a nonprofit organization that connects Israeli innovation to the world, told JNS that “Israel seeks to leverage its innovation ecosystem and Morocco’s role as a major regional player in North and West Africa to expand the impact of technological solutions in that region, especially in the water, energy, agriculture and food sectors.” …
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