Morocco and Israel have reached a US-brokered agreement on normalizing relations, making Morocco the fourth Arab country - after the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Sudan – to agree to a normalization deal with the Tel Aviv regime since August.
US President Donald Trump tweeted on Thursday that “Israel and the Kingdom of Morocco have agreed to full diplomatic relations”, claiming that agreement would be “a massive breakthrough for peace in the Middle East!”
Another HISTORIC breakthrough today! Our two GREAT friends Israel and the Kingdom of Morocco have agreed to full diplomatic relations – a massive breakthrough for peace in the Middle East!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 10, 2020
The White House said in a statement that Trump sealed the agreement in a telephone conversation with Morocco’s King Mohammed VI. It quoted the Moroccan king as saying that the agreement aimed to resume “diplomatic relations between Morocco and Israel and expand economic and cultural cooperation to advance regional stability.”
As part of the agreement, Trump who is due to leave office on January 20 agreed to recognize Morocco’s "sovereignty" over the contested Western Sahara region.
Morocco annexed the vast Western Sahara region, a former Spanish colony, in 1975 and has since been in conflict with the Algeria-backed Polisario Front, a movement that seeks to establish an independent state in the territory and end Morocco’s presence there.
The West African Arab country is currently in control of 80 percent of the region, including its phosphate deposits and fishing waters.
The American president “reaffirmed his support for Morocco’s serious, credible, and realistic autonomy proposal as the only basis for a just and lasting solution to the dispute over the Western Sahara territory,” said the White House statement.
It stressed that as such Trump “recognized Moroccan sovereignty over the entire Western Sahara territory.”
Under the agreement, Rabat will establish full diplomatic relations and resume official contacts with Tel Aviv and grant it overflights. It will also direct flights to and from Israel for all Israelis.
“They are going to reopen their liaison offices in Rabat and Tel Aviv immediately with the intention to open embassies. And they are going to promote economic cooperation between Israeli and Moroccan companies,” Reuters quoted White House senior adviser Jared Kushner as saying.
Separately, Morocco’s royal court said in a statement that the king had told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in a phone call earlier in the day that Rabat would stand by a so-called two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Hamas: Morocco's normalization with Israel "political sin"
Reacting to the new development, Palestinian resistance movement Hamas issued a statement strongly condemning the Tel Aviv-Rabat agreement as a “political sin.”
“It is a political sin that does not serve the Palestinian cause and encourages the occupation to continue to deny the rights of our people,” Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem told AFP, referring to the Israeli regime.
Meanwhile, Islamic Jihad Movement of Palestine also condemned normalization of relations between morocco and Israel, describing it as betrayal of Jerusalem al-Quds.
The movement added that serial moves taken to normalize ties with Israel are cause of shame for leaders of those Arab countries that make those moves.
The Palestinian president has lambasted the three earlier normalization agreements in the strongest terms.
The provocative normalization agreements between Israel and three Arab countries – the UAE, Bahrain and Sudan – have already sparked outrage among the Palestinians who view the agreements as stabs on their back and a betrayal of their cause.
UN says position on Western Sahara 'unchanged' following normalization
Later on Thursday, the United Nations said its position was "unchanged" on the disputed Western Sahara region despite the US recognition of Morocco's sovereignty.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres believes "the solution to the question can still be found based on Security Council resolutions," his spokesman said, as quoted by AFP, describing the UN's position as "unchanged."
The UN deploys a peacekeeping mission called MINURSO mission to the region to monitor a ceasefire and supposedly to organize a referendum on the territory's status.
Polisario 'regrets' US backing of Morocco's claim to Western Sahara
Meanwhile, a representative of the Polisario Front independence movement for Western Sahara said it "regrets highly" a U.S. decision to recognize Moroccan sovereignty over the territory, Reuters reported, adding the decision was "strange but not surprising."
"This will not change an inch of the reality of the conflict and the right of the people of Western Sahara to self
determination," the Polisario's Europe representative Oubi Bchraya said, adding that the front will continue its struggle.