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Israeli foreign minister to visit Morocco next month

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel’s foreign minister announced Monday he will soon visit Morocco on a trip aimed at cementing the budding diplomatic ties between the two countries.

The trip by Yair Lapid, expected in mid-August, will mark the first visit to Morocco by an Israeli foreign minister since the two countries re-established ties last year.

“This visit will be the starting point for tourism and trade agreements, and for comprehensive economic and political cooperation between the two countries,” Lapid told members of his Yesh Atid party.

Israel and Morocco agreed to normalize relations in late 2020. Morocco was among four Arab nations, including the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan, to upgrade or establish diplomatic ties with Israel in a series of deals brokered by the Trump administration.

As part of the deal, the United States agreed to recognize Morocco’s claim over the long-disputed Western Sahara region, though the Biden administration has said it will review that decision. Morocco’s 1975 annexation of Western Sahara is not recognized by the United Nations.

Israel and Morocco had low-level diplomatic relations in the 1990s, but Morocco cut them off after the second Palestinian uprising erupted in 2000. Since then, the two countries have maintained informal ties with thousands of Israelis traveling to Morocco each year.

Many Israeli Jews have lineage that traces back to Morocco, which is still home to a small community of several thousand Jews.

After his visit, Lapid said Morocco’s foreign minister will then visit Israel to open diplomatic offices.

Jack Jeffery, The Associated Press