Morocco, Israel sign deals to mark historic visit
Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita (R) and his Israeli counterpart Yair Lapid talk after signing cooperation agreements, in Rabat.–AFP
Nasser Bourita and his Israeli counterpart Yair Lapid signed agreements on political consultations, aviation and culture.
Lapid told reporters the accords would "bring our countries innovation and opportunities for the benefit of our children -– and their children –- for years to come".
"Today, we are restoring peace, restoring friendship," Lapid said.
The move infuriated the Palestinians, as it shattered the longstanding Arab consensus that there should be no normalisation until Israel agrees to a comprehensive and lasting peace.
Bourita said that during his talks with Lapid, the situation in Israel and the Palestinian territories was raised.
"King Mohammed VI insists on the need to break the current impasse and resume negotiations, as the only means of reaching a solution based on two states living side by side on the 1967 borders," Bourita said.
The monarch had reassured Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas after the normalisation of ties that Morocco would continue to support the Palestinian cause.
"It is urgent that measures be taken today to restore confidence and maintain calm, to open a political horizon to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," Bourita said.
Lapid said he preferred to focus on the normalisation of ties between Israel and Arab countries.
"Something is happening in the region," he said.
On Thursday, Lapid will officially open Israel's diplomatic representation in the capital Rabat.
- 'A major step' -
"The United States will continue to work with Israel and Morocco to strengthen all aspects of our partnerships and create a more peaceful, secure, and prosperous future for all the people of the Middle East," Blinken said in a statement.
The American embassy in Rabat said that ties between the two countries generated "real benefits" for both sides including direct commercial flights and economic cooperation.
Before the Bourita-Lapid meeting, the Israeli delegation visited the royal mausoleum, where kings Hassan II and Mohammed V are buried.
Since then, the first Israeli tourists have flooded into Morocco's tourist magnet Marrakesh, and into Casablanca.
Before the pandemic, between 50,000 and 70,000 Israeli tourists -- mainly of Moroccan origin -- had visited annually, albeit by transiting through third countries.
- Large Jewish community -
The North African country hosts the Arab world's largest Jewish community of some 3,000 people.
They are the remnant of a once much larger community. Some 700,000 Jews of Moroccan descent now live in Israel.
Lapid's visit to Rabat follows a June trip to the United Arab Emirates, where he inaugurated the new Israeli embassy in Abu Dhabi.
And in July, the two countries signed a cyber defence cooperation accord in Rabat.
Lapid's trip comes after rights groups last month accused Morocco of having used the Israeli spyware programme Pegasus.
Rabat strongly denied the reports and said it was suing the rights groups.