Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner led a delegation from Israel to Morocco on Tuesday on the first known direct flight since the two countries agreed to establish full diplomatic ties earlier this month as part of a series of U.S.-brokered accords with Arab countries.
Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, has overseen the diplomatic push that saw the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco normalize relations with Israel in historic agreements.
As part of the deal, Morocco, which is home to a small but centuries-old Jewish community and has long welcomed Israeli tourists, secured U.S. recognition of its 1975 annexation of the disputed region of Western Sahara.
Joining Kushner was the head of Israel’s delegation, national security adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat. Both men were expected to meet with Morocco’s King Mohammed VI and other top officials.
The delegations were expected to restore low-level relations between Israel and Morocco and sign several cooperation agreements, including the establishment of direct flights, according to Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Lior Haiat.
“The goal is to move the relationship from a low level to full diplomatic relations,” he said. He said there was no firm timeline for this process.
Adam Boehler, chief executive of the U.S. international development and finance corporation, said he expected the visit to yield huge trade benefits by bringing an existing relationship out into the open.
“We’ve been doing a lot of legwork looking at investment in Morocco,” he said.
“They’re a gateway to Africa, they’ve been a great ally to the United States, they have a great investment climate. So I think you’re going to see obviously a multibillion-dollar memorandum coming out of this but also some individual investments announced.”
Before Israel’s establishment in 1948, Morocco was home to a large Jewish population, many of whose ancestors migrated to North Africa from Spain and Portugal during the Spanish Inquisition.
Today, hundreds of thousands of Israeli Jews trace their lineage to Morocco, and a small community of Jews, estimated at several thousand people, continues to live there.
During the 1990s, Israel and Morocco established low-level diplomatic relations, but Morocco closed its representative office in Tel Aviv after the eruption of the second Palestinian uprising in 2000.
On the tarmac in Israel, Kushner said that he hopes the delegation’s visit will “pave the way for another warm peace between Israel and Morocco,” pointing to the emerging ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.
Ben-Shabbat, whose family immigrated to Israel from Morocco, said that “history is being written before our eyes.”
Israelis of all backgrounds have celebrated the so-called Abraham Accords after decades in which their country was shunned by the Arab world over its unresolved conflict with the Palestinians.
Saudi Arabia, a regional power with close ties to Morocco, has given its tacit support for the deals and could be next.
The agreements were a major foreign policy achievement by the Trump administration.
Presumptive president-elect Joe Biden has welcomed the accords but has vowed to pursue different policies in the region, including returning the U.S. to Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers.
The Trump administration has given unprecedented support to Israel by moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, supporting West Bank settlements and recognizing Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights.
The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.
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