update deskMiddle East

Israel’s national security adviser visits Morocco

Jerusalem mulls recognizing Rabat's claim to Western Sahara.

Israeli National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi (left) with Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita in Rabat, June 7, 2023. Source: Twitter.
Israeli National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi (left) with Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita in Rabat, June 7, 2023. Source: Twitter.

Israel’s National Security Adviser and National Security Council Director Tzachi Hanegbi held a series of meetings in Rabat on Wednesday, including with Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita and the heads of the North African country’s security services.

Hangebi’s office said the talks focused on advancing the joint vision of King Mohammed VI and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on strengthening bilateral cooperation in foreign and security affairs.

Knesset ​Speaker Amir Ohana also arrived in Rabat on Wednesday for an official visit to the Parliament of Morocco.

Ohana of the ruling Likud Party is the first Knesset speaker to ever pay an official visit to the parliament of a Muslim country.

This week’s high-profile visits come as Israel is considering recognizing Morocco’s claim to Western Sahara in return for an upgrade of diplomatic relations.

A source in Netanyahu’s cabinet said that the issue was under discussion in the country’s National Security Council, Reuters reported on Wednesday. 

The head of the Israeli liaison office in Rabat, Shai Cohen, said on Tuesday that the foreign ministries of the two countries were discussing Western Sahara and “the final decision will be a decision made by both our ministers.”

A move by Israel to recognize Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara could lead to the upgrading of liaison offices in Rabat and Tel Aviv to embassy status, and to a free-trade agreement at some point, a diplomatic source told Reuters.

The United States recognized Morocco’s ownership of Western Sahara in 2020 in return for the country joining the Abraham Accords and Madrid last year backed Morocco’s plan to grant autonomy to the disputed territory and former Spanish colony.

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