Originally reported in
Tovah Lazaroff | Dec 22, 2020
While in Rabat, the US and Israeli delegations were expected to sign the first documents that are part of the Israel-Morocco normalization deal.
Nasser Bourita at a press event Palace of Hospitality in Rabat, hosted by King Mohammed VI.
“Morocco and Israel are making huge strides on their commitments to resume full diplomatic relations, promote economic cooperation and to reopen their liaison offices very quickly,” White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner said.
“This trip has captured the imagination of Israel, especially of the over one million Israelis of Moroccan descent,” Kushner said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday lauded the historic breakthrough with Morocco.
“We are creating a new era of peace, prosperity and hope for our region, for our peoples and for our future,” Netanyahu told the crew of the El-Al flight that ferried the delegation to Morocco to solidify a fourth normalization agreement in as many months.
Kushner led the US delegation and National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat headed the Israeli delegation.
After a brief morning ceremony, they took off from Ben-Gurion Airport on El-Al’s first flight between the two countries. The plane was decorated with graphics of a hamsa, a traditional symbol of good fortune, and the Israeli, Moroccan and US flags. In honor of the hamsa, the flight was designated as LY-555.
Upon arrival in the afternoon, the visitors stopped at the mausoleum of King Mohammed V, who died in 1961, and his son, Hassan II, who died in 1991.
The officials then met with King Mohammed VI and were expected to sign four Memoranda of Understanding.
The agreements address water, finance, visas and direct flights. Talks were also to be held on cooperation in tourism and agriculture.
Because of COVID-19 restrictions, the Israeli delegation was set to fly back late on Tuesday.
Earlier this month, Morocco and Israel announced the normalization of ties under the US-brokered Abraham Accords. The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have already ratified deals, although Sudan and Morocco have so far only issued declarations.
Morocco differs from the other three countries because it had low level diplomatic ties with Israel from 1994-2000 and Tuesday’s flight marked a resumption of those ties, but is not the start of full diplomatic relations.
The history of Jews in Morocco dates back 2,000 years and Jews and Muslims have a long history of living together in this region, Kushner said.
“The state we have lived in for the last 75 years, where Jews and Muslims have been separated, is not a natural state.”
“What we are seeing now is a restoration of that norm and coming to a place where we can have that understanding – that will bring us to a much more peaceful Middle East and a much more peaceful world. Hopefully, it will pave the way for another warm peace between Israel and Morocco,” Kushner said.
Ben Shabbat said that “history is being written before our eyes.”
He continued, “Coming from a family that immigrated from Morocco, I am grateful for the privilege that has fallen to me and I am excited to head the Israeli delegation to Rabat.”
US Ambassador David Friedman recalled the illustrious history of the Jewish people of Morocco and thanked US President Donald Trump for his efforts on behalf of this deal and the Abraham Accords in general.
El Al later published the short conversation held between its pilot and the ground crew in Morocco.
Netanyahu spoke with the members of the Israeli-American delegation that landed in Rabat:
“This is a historic flight, another breakthrough for peace, true peace, with mutual respect, from strength, peace for peace.
“I would like to emphasize that there have been four peace agreements in four months,” Netanyahu said.
“We are changing the future of the two peoples, who are indeed marvelously linked. Nevertheless, the direct flights, the opening of offices, and everything that will follow symbolizes an era of wonderful peace. I congratulate the king of Morocco for the decision that is so important to all of us,” he added.
With early elections being called for March 23, there is a question whether Israel under a caretaker government will be able to ratify full-fledged ties with Morocco or Sudan or any others that US President Donald Trump might announce before he ends his tenure on January 20.