Israeli foreign minister to visit Morocco to cultivate ties

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel’s foreign minister will fly to Morocco on Wednesday for a visit that will help cement ties between the two countries less than a year after they signed a deal to normalize relations.

Yair Lapid will head of a delegation of lawmakers and officials who will meet with Moroccan officials and inaugurate the Israeli Liaison Office in the capital, Rabat, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

The visit will be the first by an Israeli minister since the signing of the “Abraham Accords,” the U.S.-brokered normalization agreements between Israel and four Arab states: Morocco, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan.

It’s the first visit to Morocco by an Israeli minister since 2003 and Lapid is scheduled to meet with his Moroccan counterpart, Nasser Bourita.

“This historic visit is a continuation of the long-standing friendship and deep roots and traditions that the Jewish community in Morocco, and the large community of Israelis with origins in Morocco, have,” Lapid said in a statement ahead of the trip.

Israel and Morocco had low-level diplomatic relations in the 1990s, but Morocco cut them off after the second Palestinian uprising erupted in 2000. The two countries 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.

As part of the deal to establish formal ties with Israel, 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.

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