Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid heads to Morocco for landmark visit

Reuters
Jerusalem Published: Aug 11, 2021, 12:01 PM(IST)

Israeli alternate Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid speaks during a news conference in Dubai, United Arab Emirates Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

Israel and Morocco normalised ties last year after then US President Donald Trump recognised Morocco's contested sovereignty in Western Sahara

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid left for Morocco Wednesday on the first official visit since Rabat joined three other Arab countries in normalising ties last year.

"Taking off for a historic visit to Morocco!" Lapid wrote on Twitter, posting a photograph of the El Al airline departures screen. 

Israel and Morocco normalised ties last year after then US President Donald Trump recognised Morocco's contested sovereignty in Western Sahara. 

Morocco was the fourth Arab state to establish ties with Israel last year after the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan.

The move infuriated the Palestinians as it shattered the longstanding Arab consensus that there should be no normalisation until Israel agrees to a comprehensive and lasting peace. 

Lapid is scheduled to open a diplomatic office in Rabat and hold talks with his Moroccan counterpart Nasser Bourita. 

He is also expected to visit the Beth-El synagogue in Casablanca on his two-day visit, the Israeli foreign ministry said. 

The North African country hosts the Arab world's largest Jewish community of some 3,000 people. 

They are the remnant of a once much larger community. Some 700,000 Jews of Moroccan descent now live in Israel.

Morocco and Israel maintained liaison offices in the 1990s, before closing them during the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, that raged from 2000 to 2005.

Lapid's visit to Rabat follows a June trip to the United Arab Emirates, where he inaugurated the new Israeli embassy in Abu Dhabi.

It comes just days before Israel is due to require all travellers returning from Morocco to quarantine following a review of the risks of Covid-19 infection.

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