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Israel recalls its ambassador to Morocco amid sexual, financial misconduct

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)
This handout picture released by the Israeli foreign ministry shows the head of the Israeli diplomatic delegation David Govrin (R), hanging a mezuzah (doorpost) on the door of the new Israeli liaison office, as alternate prime minister and foreign minister Yair Lapid (L) looks on, during an inauguration ceremony in the Moroccan capital, Rabat, in November 2021.

Israel has recalled its ambassador to Morocco amid claims of sexual harassment and corruption at its mission in Rabat, nearly two years after the North African country normalized its ties with the regime in Tel Aviv.  

The Israeli foreign ministry on Tuesday confirmed that David Govrin had been recalled, according to a report in Hebrew-language daily Yedioth Ahronoth, citing “allegations of sexual abuse, harassment and corruption.”

Public broadcaster KAN said Israeli authorities were “investigating complaints over alleged actions carried out at the Israeli representation in Morocco.”

According to Zman Yisrael, the Hebrew-language sister site of The Times of Israel, the Israeli foreign ministry’s Inspector General Hagay Behar rushed to Morocco last week after accusations were leveled against Govrin regarding the functioning of the mission, which opened last year.

The most serious complaint was that “a senior Israeli official” at the mission had sexually exploited several local women. There were also complaints of sexual harassment within the mission.

The Times of Israel said the foreign ministry is also investigating the theft of a “precious gift” from the Moroccan Royal Court during the regime's celebration of its foundation anniversary.

Such gifts have to be registered and turned over to the Tel Aviv regime, but the item appears to have disappeared with no record.

Israeli officials are also looking into reports that a local businessman and Jewish community leader, identified as Samy Cohen, a friend of Govrin, was involved in hosting several Israeli ministers, including Yair Lapid, Ayelet Shaked and Gideon Sa’ar.

According to media reports, the businessman allegedly arranged meetings for senior Israeli officials with Moroccan official representatives, even though he did not hold any official position and was not in any way affiliated with the mission.

The Israeli foreign ministry is also investigating a dispute between Govrin and a security officer at the regime’s liaison office in Rabat.

If the claims prove to be true, a serious diplomatic rupture in relations between Israel and Morocco could take place, according to observers.

Govrin, 58, is a fluent Arabic speaker who previously served as Israel's ambassador to Egypt from 2016 to 2020.

He was technically only the director of the regime's liaison office in Rabat, waiting a formal upgrade to his and the mission’s status.

During his tenure, several Israeli ministers made whirlwind trips to Morocco and direct commercial flights also began between them, bringing many tourists.

Israel and Morocco agreed on December 10, 2020, to normalize relations in a deal brokered by former US president Donald Trump, making the North African country the fourth Arab state to strike a normalization deal with the regime. The others were the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Sudan.

Trump sealed the agreement in a phone call with Morocco’s King Mohammed VI. As part of the agreement, the US president agreed to recognize Morocco’s sovereignty over the Western Sahara region, which has been at the center of a dispute with neighboring Algeria.

The Algerian foreign ministry later rejected Trump’s stance, saying the US decision “has no legal effect because it contradicts UN resolutions, especially UN Security Council resolutions on Western Sahara.”

The Algeria-backed and pro-independence Polisario Front has also rejected “in the strongest terms” Trump’s stance on the disputed Western Sahara Desert region, stating that Trump had attempted to give to Morocco “that which does not belong to it.”

The agreement with Israel also drew widespread condemnation from resistance groups and people in Palestine.

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