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Israel strengthen ties with Morocco, officially recognizes kingdom’s sovereignty over Western Sahara

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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 has 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.’

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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.

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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.

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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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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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POLITICS

King Mohammed VI Invites Tinubu To Morocco –

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Morocco’s monarch, King Mohammed VI has invited Nigeria’s President Bola Ahmed Adekunle Tinubu to Morocco after having a telephone conversation with the Nigerian leader. According to a statement  during a phone exchange that took place today.

A statement from the royal palace said that the two leaders discussed the development of bilateral relations between Morocco and Nigeria over the past few years.

The discussion also covered the African-Atlantic Gas Pipeline, which is a structuring project between Nigeria and Morocco that will be a strategic lever for regional integration and socio-economic development for all West African countries.

Initiated in 2016 first by King Mohammed VI and former president of Nigeria Muhammadu Buhari, the pipeline aims to promote regional integration and reinforce Africa’s energy security. Morocco is set to host over 1600 kilometers of the project, which is 5,600 kilometers long in total.

King Mohammed VI has frequently emphasized the importance of the project, reiterating Morocco’s commitment to the pipeline project with Nigeria.In November 2023, during a speech the King gave commemorating the Green March, he stressed the potential benefits that the pipeline could bring not only to Africa but also to Europe.

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“The Morocco-Nigeria gas pipeline  strategic project is part of that endeavor,” he said, referring to the purpose of the project; to promote regional integration and boost economic growth.
The pipeline is set to connect over 11 countries in the region to benefit from Nigerian gas sources.
Many countries have endorsed the project, including Senegal.

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US reaffirms support for Morocco’s Autonomy Plan on Western Sahara

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The US State Department has affirmed the country’s support for Morocco on the Western Sahara issue.

In a statement of support issued on Sunday, the Americans remarked: “There is no change in the clear and consistent U.S. position regarding the Moroccan Sahara issue.”

 

The statement is published on the eve of the visit to Morocco of U.S. Assistant Secretary for North Africa Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs Joshua Harris, the State Department stressed that during his talks in Rabat, the U.S. official will reiterate that “there is no change in the clear and consistent U.S. position.”

This new reaffirmation of the consistency of Washington’s position provides a scathing denial of the fallacious allegations conveyed by some Algerian media outlets which have insinuated, following the recent visit to Algiers made by the U.S. official, an alleged change in the U.S. position on the Sahara issue.

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“The United States fully supports UN Personal Envoy de Mistura in facilitating the negotiations process to achieve a just, lasting, and mutually acceptable solution for the Sahara,” the statement points out.

After recalling that the United States “believes a negotiated political solution should be realized without further delay,” the same source underlines that “the outcome of UN-led negotiations – mutually agreed to by the parties and reflecting their commitment to UN efforts in a spirit of realism and compromise – would constitute the final resolution to this issue.”

“In this regard, the United States continues to view Morocco’s Autonomy Proposal as serious, credible, and realistic,” it says.

The visit to Rabat of Deputy Assistant Secretary Joshua Harris will also focus on the means to further strengthen the U.S.-Morocco partnership in addition to a range of regional security priorities, the statement stress

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Morocco, UAE strengthen ties

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King Mohammed VI of Morocco and President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates

Morocco’s monarch, King Mohammed VI and United Arab Emirate’s President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan on Monday engaged in high-level talks aimed at bolstering bilateral cooperation on Monday.

They issued a press release in which both countries highlighted the mutual appreciation and deep-rooted affection.

King Mohammed VI commended President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan for successfully overseeing the 28th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 28) held in Dubai.

The meeting showcased the two countries’ shared commitment to boost ties, with emphasis on a multidimensional partnership across many spheres.

King Mohammed VI underscored Morocco’s strides in infrastructure and structural reforms, outlining a vision of economic and social development through strategic investments.

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On his part, President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan hailed Morocco’s potential as an investment hub, acknowledging the nation’s diverse assets and conducive business climate. The leaders affirmed their intent to cultivate innovative partnerships, exploring collaborative ventures that would benefit both nations economically and socially.

They also expressed keen interest in implementing joint action plans based on signed agreements, aiming to pioneer common partnerships in regional and international markets.

King Mohammed VI extended gratitude to President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan for the UAE’s unwavering support on national issues and Morocco’s development.

The talks concluded with an optimistic outlook, fostering a renewed sense of cooperation and shared aspirations for the future.

Following the talks, the two leaders signed a joint declaration, committing to boosting bilateral ties and cooperation in a wide range of sectors.

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The declaration is titled “Towards an Innovative, Renewed, and Deep-rooted Partnership,” and aims to strengthen ties between the two countries through win-win economic ties.

The declaration’s text indicates that King Mohammed VI’s visit to the UAE came at the invitation of Al Nahyan.

“During their bilateral talks… the two Heads of State reiterated their firm and resolute commitment to elevate the relations between the two countries and their mutual cooperation towards broader horizons, through active economic partnerships serving their shared supreme interests, generating progress and prosperity for the two brotherly peoples,” the declaration reads.

The declaration expresses the two countries’ desire to work towards elevating bilateral ties in economic, commercial, investment, and industrial aspects to the “level of deep political” ties to serve the development goals of both countries.

The two countries also aspire to establish a model of comprehensive and balanced economic and investment cooperation open to the private sector, attracting benefits for both.

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