President Donald Trump is continuing to change and help restore peace to the Middle East.
POTUS announced on Thursday that Morocco and Israel have committed to establishing normalized relations, including opening embassies in each others’ countries in the future.
What’s the Deal?
The deal is that in return for its recognition of Israel, the US will validate Morocco’s claim to the Western Sahara, which it says is part of Morocco. Rebels from the Polisario front group say they are an independent country and are supported by Algeria. Fighting has gone on for years.
Morocco is the fourth Middle Eastern and North African country to recognize Israel since this summer. The others include the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan. There is also news that Saudi Arabia may follow in the future, especially considering that Saudi Arabia is a close ally and partner of Morocco.
Egypt and Jordan already recognize the Jewish state.
There are reports that the UAE gave money to Morocco as part of the deal and that the US is wants to sell four advanced MQ-9B drones to Morocco.
The White House heralded the move as a big step forward on peace and on the Western Sahara question.
“The president reaffirmed his support for Morocco’s serious, credible, and realistic autonomy proposal as the only basis for a just and lasting solution to the dispute over the Western Sahara territory and as such the president recognized Moroccan sovereignty over the entire Western Sahara territory,” a WH statement read.
What’s Included in the Deal?
The deal will see resumption of direct flights for Israelis to Morocco and include more economic and cultural ties between the two nations. They have already worked together in the past on security matters.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamain Netanyahu said: “this will be a very warm peace.”
Morocco had a large Jewish population before the creation of Israel in 1948, although only 2,000 or so Jews remain in the majority Muslim country. Nonetheless, Morocco remains a popular tourist destination for Israelis; around 50,000 Israelis go there each year to learn about the country’s Jewish heritage and enjoy the local culture.
Morocco had been working unofficially with Israel’s government since the 1990s. However cooperation was cut off when worse fighting broke out between Israel and Palestine in 2000.
Reactions to the Deal
Palestine has condemned the normalization of relations, saying it leaves them behind.
Meanwhile Trump’s former National Security Adviser John Bolton weighed in saying that Trump is wrong to recognize the Western Sahara. According to Bolton this “abandons” the longstanding US position on allowing a referendum in Western Sahara and was done “just to score a fast foreign policy victory.”
Republican Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma called Trump’s decision on Western Sahara “shocking and deeply disappointing.”
Others praised the move, however. Conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt said only “advanced TDS (Trump Derangement Syndrome)” stops people from admitting the deal is actually an “enormous achievement.” Prominent Trump backers like Newt Gingrich, also had a far more positive view than Bolton and Inhofe, with Gingrich calling the deal “another remarkable achievement” and musing that perhaps Trump will eventually receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
The Morocco-Israel agreement is another remarkable achievement by President Trump and his team. They have now helped Israel build ties to four Arab countries. Compare that to the ineffectiveness of professional diplomats for a quarter century. Nobel Prize next?
— Newt Gingrich (@newtgingrich) December 11, 2020
What’s Motivated the Deal?
In addition to reported weapons deals, economic interest and military cooperation, the deal is motivated by growing opposition to Iran from various Arab and North African states concerned about Tehran’s growing influence across the region and nuclear weapons program.
Trump’s son-in-law and senior Adviser Jared Kushner has been a major influence behind the scenes helping with these deals and he promises that Saudi Arabia will be next in the near future.
As part of the deal, the US will also open an American consulate in the Moroccan capital of Rabat.