Barely a year after the normalization of their relations, Morocco and Israel took a spectacular step towards each other on Wednesday, November 24. The two countries have concluded a framework agreement for security cooperation » unprecedented « , during a historic visit to Rabat by the Israeli Minister of Defense, Benny Gantz, in full tension between the Shereefian kingdom and Algeria.
Mr. Gantz, a former head of the Israeli army, was received early in the morning by the Deputy Minister responsible for the administration of Moroccan national defense, Abdellatif Loudiyi. They signed a memorandum of understanding which formally launches security cooperation « In all its aspects » between the two countries, facing « Threats and challenges in the region », according to the Israeli side. « This is a very important thing that will also allow us to exchange our opinions, launch joint projects and promote Israeli exports so far. », underlined Mr. Gantz.
Before his departure from Tel Aviv on Tuesday evening, he had mentioned « An important trip to Morocco which has a historical touch, as it is the first formal visit by a Minister of Defense [israélien] in this country « . During this forty-eight hour trip, Mr. Gantz is also due to meet on Wednesday with Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita.
Strong support from the United States
Morocco and Israel had established diplomatic relations in the early 1990s before the first ended there at the start of the second Intifada, the Palestinian uprising of the early 2000s. Now allies in a tense regional context, they have resumed ties in December 2020 as part of the Abrahamic Accords, a process of normalizing relations between the Hebrew state and Arab countries, supported by the administration of former US President Donald Trump.
On this occasion, Washington recognized the « Full sovereignty » of Morocco on Western Sahara, territory disputed with the Saharawi separatists of the Polisario Front supported by Algeria. Algiers broke off relations with Rabat in August because of« Hostile actions » of the kingdom, while the Polisario Front decided to« Intensify » his armed struggle against Morocco. Meeting his counterpart Nasser Bourita in Washington on Monday, the head of American diplomacy, Antony Blinken, reiterated the strong support of the United States for Morocco on the question of Western Sahara.
Drone and software exports
The Hebrew state is one of the world’s leading exporters of armed drones and security software like NSO Group company Pegasus, which has been the subject of a vast international investigation by seventeen media outlets, including The world, who had access to some 50,000 phone numbers potentially targeted by this powerful spyware, on behalf of ten states. However, sales of armed drones and some advanced technologies, like Pegasus, must be approved by the Ministry of Defense headed by Mr. Gantz. Morocco categorically denies having purchased this software and has announced that it has filed complaints for « Defamation » against media claiming that Rabat had used it to infiltrate the phones of several national and foreign public figures.
A pro-Palestinian coalition of left-wing parties and NGOs, as well as the Islamists of the Justice and Beneficence movement called for a sit-in Wednesday afternoon in front of the Parliament in Rabat to denounce the normalization of relations with Israel and the coming to Morocco of « War criminal Gantz », Chief of Staff during the deadly summer 2014 war in Gaza.