Israel recognizes Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara, strengths diplomatic relations

Morocco's King Mohammed VI (l) and Israel Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu

A major diplomatic score has been made as Israel has announced its recognition of Morocco’s sovereignty over the Western Sahara region.

According to a statement from the the Royal Office of King Mohammed VI and made available to the media, a letter from Israel Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, announced the decision of the State of Israel to 'recognize the sovereignty of Morocco over the territory of Western Sahara.' 

In this respect, the Israeli Prime Minister indicated that his country's position will be 'reflected in all relevant acts and documents of the Israeli Government.'

The decision comes as many countries continue to cement their support for Morocco’s territorial integrity through recognition or the opening of representations in Moroccan southern provinces.

Netanyahu also informed the Moroccan monarch that Israel’s decision will be transmitted to the UN, regional and international organizations of which Israel is a member, as well as to all countries with which Israel maintains diplomatic relations.

Israel is also examining positively the “opening of a consulate in the city of Dakhla” and this within the framework of the implementation of this decision,” the letter indicated.

Israel’s recognition comes amid diplomatic gains Morocco has been scoring in the past decade in the Sahara dossier. 

A lengthy list of countries has reflected their support for Morocco’s territorial integrity either through recognition or the opening of representations in the country’s southern provinces in Dakhla and Laayoune.

The Israeli decision to recognize Morocco’s sovereignty over the disputed Sahara region comes a year after Spain officially endorsed the Moroccan Autonomy Plan as the serious and credible solution to end the dispute.

The US also recognized Morocco’s sovereignty over the region in December 2020.

The news also comes a few weeks after Israeli media announced that the Israeli government was exploring the decision and would most probably announce it in the near future.

While visiting Morocco last month, Amir Ohana, Speaker of the Knesset (the Israeli Parliament), urged Israel to recognize Morocco’s territorial integrity, stressing that the region is historically Moroccan. 

“As a native of this land [Morocco], I openly declare that Israel must recognize the Moroccanness of the Sahara,” Ohana said, adding that a “serious discussion” and consultations are underway within the Israeli government on the matter.

Days later, however, some reports suggested that Israel could set conditions before officially recognizing Morocco’s sovereignty over the Sahara. In particular, the reports quoted some Israeli sources as suggesting that there would be no recognition unless Morocco committed to hosting the Negev summit. 

Earlier this month, Reuters quoted Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen as telling reporters that the Israeli government was working “in regards to this issue and our plan is to have our final decision in the Negev forum.”

Morocco confirmed the postponement of the Negev summit on June 23, attributing the delay to an unfavorable political context amid the escalation in Israeli-Palestinian tensions.

With Israel having now officially announced its recognition of Morocco’s sovereignty over the Sahara, it remains to be seen if Rabat will reconsider its stance on postponing the Negev summit as long as tensions continue between Israeli troops and armed Palestinian groups in the occupied Palestinian territories.
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