Peaceful relations with Morocco took another step forward on Monday, as a visiting delegation of officials arrived in Israel on Monday to lay the groundwork for the opening of a liaison office in the Jewish state.

The administrative delegation is scheduled to inspect the building that hosted the Moroccan liaison office in the late 1990s. Rabat had preserved the Tel Aviv venue even after severing ties in 2000, when the Second Intifada erupted.

The delegation is also expected to prepare for the visit of a more senior Moroccan delegation, on a date yet to be determined.

Meanwhile, Israel intends to open its office in Rabat in the same building that it used before ties were severed. Both countries are working swiftly to reopen the offices in accordance with their recent peace accord, one of several U.S.-brokered deals between Israel and neighboring Muslim-majority states.

On Friday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke on the phone with Morocco’s King Mohammed VI and invited him to visit Israel. Netanyahu also thanked the king for hosting a historic joint Israeli-American delegation last week.

During that visit, Israel and Morocco signed four bilateral agreements, centering on direct air links, water management, connecting financial systems and a visa-waiver arrangement for diplomats.

The countries are also due to reopen diplomatic missions.

The Moroccan king’s royal office issued a statement saying that, in his conversation with Netanyahu, the monarch recalled “the strong and special ties” between the Jewish community in Morocco and the monarchy, and reiterated “the consistent, unwavering and unchanged position of the Kingdom of Morocco on the Palestinian issue and the pioneering role of the kingdom in promoting peace and stability in the Middle East.”

The kingdom has North Africa’s largest Jewish community, made up of about 3,000 people, and Israel is home to 700,000 Jews of Moroccan origin.

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.


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