During an official visit to Rabat, Israeli Parliament Speaker Amir Ohana called on his country’s government to recognize Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara, which is disputed with the Polisario Front, announcing that there are “serious talks” between the two governments in this regard.
“I said and say clearly, in my capacity as Speaker of the Knesset, that Israel must move towards recognizing the Moroccanness of the Sahara, just as the United States did by signing the Abraham Accords,” Ohana said in a press conference following talks with his Moroccan counterpart, Rachid Talibi Elmi, in Parliament.
He added, “There are currently serious talks between our governments on this issue, and I suspect that Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu will announce his decision in the near future.”
Morocco is waiting for Israel to take a step in this direction since the two countries normalized their diplomatic relations in late 2020 through a tripartite agreement, which also included the United States’ recognition of the kingdom’s sovereignty over the disputed territory with the Polisario Front, supported by Algeria.
This conflict has been going on for nearly fifty years. Morocco, which controls about 80% of the territory of the region, proposes to grant it autonomy under its sovereignty as the only solution to end it, while the Polisario is calling for a referendum on self-determination under the supervision of the United Nations.
Opening two embassies
The latter calls on the parties to the conflict to negotiate “without preconditions”, with the aim of reaching “a just, lasting and acceptable political solution” with a view to “determining the fate of the people of Western Sahara”.
In parallel to his call on the Israeli Prime Minister to officially endorse Morocco’s position on this dispute, Ohana said that much remains to be done to strengthen the ties of the two countries.
He singled out the “opening of two embassies” in Rabat and Tel Aviv, where the two countries are currently linked through two liaison offices.
Ohana’s visit to Rabat comes a day after talks between Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita and Israeli National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi in Rabat.
During these talks, “the two sides reviewed a series of bilateral and regional issues of common interest,” according to the Moroccan news agency MAP.
Israeli soldiers also participate for the first time in the annual African Lion military exercise, which Morocco and the United States organize from June 6-16.
This dynamic in the relations of the two countries comes after it was recently clouded by the rise of extreme right-wing currents to power in Israel and the daily violence in the occupied territories.
Morocco “strongly” condemned in early April the Israeli forces’ storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque’s courtyard, following violent clashes between Palestinian worshipers and the Israeli police.
Rabat regularly affirms its commitment to the Palestinian cause, which still enjoys broad popular support in the Kingdom.
On Wednesday, a few dozen anti-normalization activists demonstrated in front of the Moroccan parliament in Rabat, to protest hosting the speaker of the Knesset.