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Morocco postpones opening of Israeli embassy over dysfunctional Jewish lobby: Report

Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita (R) and his Israeli counterpart Yair Lapid signed cooperation agreements in Rabat, Morocco, on August 11, 2021. (File photo by AFP)

Morocco has reportedly postponed the opening of the Israeli embassy due to dysfunctional Jewish lobby and the occupying regime’s unclear position on the Western Sahara conflict, despite US recognition of the Arab country’s “sovereignty” over the territory to normalize Rabat-Tel Aviv ties.

In a report, the Spanish-language Sahrawi newspaper EcSaharaui said that the opening of Israel’s embassy in Rabat was postponed due to what was reported as Tel Aviv’s lack of transparency over recognition of Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara.    

Under the so-called Abraham Accords, Morocco became the fourth Arab country in late 2020 to establish ties with the Israeli regime after the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Sudan, in what has been strongly denounced by Palestinians as a “betrayal” of their cause.

Morocco’s decision to normalize ties with Israel came after former US president Donald Trump recognized the North African country’s “sovereignty” over Western Sahara, a disputed and divided former Spanish colony.

Washington’s move meant abandoning longstanding US policy on the region. However, the Tel Aviv regime has not yet clarified its position regarding the move.

The Northern African country annexed the vast Western Sahara region, a former Spanish colony, in the 1970s 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.

Morocco is currently in control of 80 percent of the region, including its phosphate deposits and fishing waters.

According to the report, Moroccan King Mohamed VI received last Monday in Rabat several new ambassadors who presented their credentials, including those from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Oman, Chile, Norway, the United Kingdom, Egypt, and Jordan.

However, the king refused to receive Israeli diplomat David Govrin, who has been designated to serve as Tel Aviv’s ambassador and director of the liaison office in Rabat, a month after Morocco accepted to let Israel open its embassy in the African country.

Explaining why the king did not receive the Israeli diplomat, Moroccan government spokesman Mustafa Baitas said on Thursday that, “On the issue of ambassadors, our country respects the Vienna Convention, which controls all the protocol pathways related to this area.”

Back in October, Govrin angered the Moroccan government when he said that Israel continued to support the United Nations for the resolution of the Saharawi conflict – meaning Tel Aviv still hesitates to recognize Morocco’s “sovereignty” over the disputed region.

Morocco and Israel began limited ties in 1993 after the latter reached a deal with the Palestinian Liberation Organization as part of the Oslo Accords. But Rabat suspended ties with Israel after the outbreak of the Second Palestinian Intifada in 2000.

Moroccan activists, nevertheless, have firmly rejected all forms of normalization with the Israeli regime and voiced unwavering support for the Palestinian cause.

Morocco is home to the Arab world’s largest Jewish community of some 3,000 people, the remnant of a once much larger community. Around 700,000 Jews of Moroccan descent live in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.

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