Morocco, Israel sign first-ever defence agreement in Rabat

A memorandum of understanding has formalised security cooperation between Morocco and Israel after the Abraham Accords.

In Rabat, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz signed the document along with Abdellatif Loudiyi, Morocco's defence administration minister [Israel Defence Ministry via Reuters]

Israel and Morocco have signed a landmark agreement that lays the foundation for security cooperation, intelligence sharing, and future arms sales.

The memorandum of understanding between Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz and his Moroccan counterpart Abdellatif Loudiyi was signed on Wednesday in Rabat, as part of the first official visit by an Israeli defence minister to one of the Arab states that normalised ties last year.

Morocco, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan signed agreements to normalise relations with Israel in 2020 as part of the Abraham Accords, which were brokered by the Trump administration.

In a statement, Gantz said that the agreement was “very significant and will allow us to exchange ideas, enter joint projects and enable Israeli military exports here.”

Gantz also met with the Moroccan military chief of staff and was greeted by a colour guard of soldiers clad in red tunics, blue slacks and gleaming gold epaulets.

Israel and Morocco enjoyed low-level diplomatic relations in the 1990s, but Morocco severed them after a Palestinian uprising erupted in 2000. Despite that, the two states have maintained informal relations.

Nearly half a million Israelis claim Moroccan heritage as more than 200,000 immigrated to Israel after the founding of the state in 1948.

Morocco is still home to a small Jewish community, and Rabat has one remaining synagogue, where Gantz will visit at the close of his two-day trip.

In exchange for Morocco normalising relations with Israel in December 2020, the Trump administration promised to recognise Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara, a disputed North African territory.

The announcement upset decades of US policy and international consensus that Western Sahara’s status should be settled by a UN referendum.

The Abraham Accords broke a longstanding consensus among Arab states that normalisation with Israel only takes place as part of a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Palestinians view the agreements as a betrayal that eroded their leverage with Israel.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies