December 14, 2020
WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST
Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.
BREAKTHROUGH IN MORROCO
Morocco’s ruling monarch King Mohammad VI confirmed Thursday that the country intends to establish official relations with Israel for the first time in nearly twenty years. Morocco is the fourth Arab nation to recognize Israel in recent months as the administration seeks to expand its “Abraham Accords” framework, which began over the summer with an agreement between the Jewish state and the United Arab Emirates. Bahrain and Sudan have followed suit and administration officials have also been trying to bring Saudi Arabia into the fold.
The move is likely to raise hackles in Morocco. According to one recent poll, only 16 percent of Moroccans have a favorable view of Israel, while 70% view Israel unfavorably.
Unlike the other countries which have normalized with Israel over the past few months, Morocco has a genuine opposition and civil society. While true power largely lies with the monarchy, the parliament has been controlled by a conservative Islamist party whose roots trace back to the Muslim Brotherhood since 2011.
“Morocco will resume official bilateral contacts and diplomatic relations [with Israel] as soon as possible,” King Mohammad said in a statement. The statement followed an announcement that Israel and Morocco had agreed to “full diplomatic relations a massive breakthrough for peace in the Middle East!” In a separate but likely closely-tied announcement, the US said it would recognize Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara, a former Spanish North African territory that has been the focus of a long-running dispute that has confounded international negotiators for decades.
Israel and Morocco established low-level diplomatic relations during the 1990s following a thawing of ties between Israel and the Palestinians. Those contacts, however, were suspended in 2002 in response to the Second Intifada. Since then, however, the relationship has continued informally, with tens of thousands of Israelis traveling to Morocco every year.
Explaining the decision to normalize, King Mohammad cited among other reasons the long-standing presence of Jews in Morocco. An estimated 50,000 Israelis — many of whom are descendants of Moroccan Jews who left in the 1950s — travel to Morocco each year on trips, learning about the Jewish community and retracing family histories.
“Morocco has played a historic role in bringing the peoples of the region together and supporting security and stability in the Middle East… [there are] special ties that bind the Jewish community of Moroccan origin, including those in Israel, to the person of His Majesty the King,” the report said.
King Mohammad said his country will aim to “resume official bilateral ties and diplomatic relations [with Israel] as soon as possible,” and that Morocco will soon facilitate direct flights to transport Jews and Israelis to and from Morocco.
My latest books:
I Marched with Patton: A Firsthand Account of World War II Alongside One of the U.S. Army’s Greatest Generals!
by Frank Sisson (Author), Robert L. Wise (Author)
You can find I MARCHED WITH PATTON on Amazon.
82 Days on Okinawa: One American’s Unforgettable Firsthand Account of the Pacific War’s Greatest Battle!
You can find 82 DAYS ON OKINAWA on Amazon.
by Art Shaw (Author), Robert L. Wise (Author)