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Morocco, Israel to resume direct flights after two decades: Report

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Moroccan Jews and Israeli Jewish tourists participate in Simchat Torah festivities at a synagogue in Marrakesh, Morocco, October 12, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Morocco and Israel are reportedly going to resume direct flights after two decades of suspension, as a number of Arab states and Persian Gulf kingdoms seek to normalize diplomatic relations with the Tel Aviv regime and move to bring their clandestine ties out in the open.

The London-based and Arabic-language newspaper al-Quds al-Arabi reported on Sunday that Israeli travel agency Flying Carpet has organized five flights per month from the occupied territories to Casablanca, Marrakech, Tangier and Oujda via an Israeli airline.

The report added that the flights will start at $600, and will be conducted as of May next year.

One of the promotions offered to Israeli tourists at a price of $1,000 includes a 7-hour direct flight from Tel Aviv to Morocco, as well as a hotel stay with breakfast, the al-Quds al-Arabi noted.

Flying Carpet ceased its tourism activities in Morocco in the wake of a decision made by government authorities there. The Israeli travel agency had an office in the Moroccan capital city of Rabat, and used to organize several trips to Marrakech.

The halt did not prevent the agency from continuing its activities in Morocco through indirect flights, which were either from France or Spain.

Nearly 80,000 Israeli citizens visited Morocco in 2018, although there are no direct flights between Tel Aviv and Rabat, according to a study published in the weekly francophone independent Moroccan newspaper La Vie Éco.

The report comes as the National Office of Tourism in Morocco, which organizes campaigns to attract tourists from all over the world to the North African country, has no activity in Israel due to the absence of diplomatic ties.

Morocco and Israel have been expanding relations in the recent past, according to a research study published in July 2018 by the Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policy, known in Hebrew as Mitvim.

“The current cooperation between Israel and Morocco is relatively broad, and their mutual interests are strong,” Einat Levy, the author of the study, said at the time..

“Cooperation is based on the history of Moroccan Jews, which has lasted for more than 2,000 years,” Levy said.

“Although there is no common diplomatic relationship, Morocco has thousands of Jewish citizens within its territory and hosts many Israelis every year,” she said.

“Today, about one million Moroccan Jews live in Israel, and tens of thousands of Israelis visit Morocco every year for tourism, trade or family visits…,” Levy noted.

In February, a report published by Israeli Channel 13 television network said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had held a “secret meeting” with Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita in September 2018.

French-language website Le Desk reported earlier this year that Israel’s Meir Ben-Shabbat, a highly placed adviser in the cabinet, was working to arrange a meeting between Netanyahu and King Mohammed VI of Morocco in the North African state.

Morocco’s Justice and Development Party, in reaction, condemned attempts by some Arab states and Persian Gulf kingdoms to normalize diplomatic relations with the Israeli regime, describing them as “dwarfs who will be hurled into the dustbin of history.”

“The people who normalize relations with the Zionist entity are dwarfs controlled by America and the Zionist entity. They cannot escape their destiny in the dustbin of history,” Naziha Maarij, a leader of the Islamic party, said in an exclusive interview with the Palestinian Arabic-language Shehab news agency.

“The people of Morocco have a neighborhood in occupied [Jerusalem] al-Quds, which they will not abandon. It is a neighborhood that has included Moroccan religious scholars, mosques, and ancient history,” she added.

The Moroccan politician further noted, “Normalization with the usurping Israeli Occupation amounts to a haram (religiously forbidden) act, because it amounts to conspiracy against the fighters who have offered everything to guard our faith and our sanctities.”

“At the very least, we should boycott the brutal Zionist entity, reject its goods and sever relations with it. Whoever normalizes with the Occupation is not a Muslim, and he is sinful in this life and will be punished in the hereafter.”

“The people of Palestine are saving our faces as they are steadfast in defending the cause and sanctities, and at the very least, we should boycott the Zionist entity…,” Maarij pointed out.

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