Israeli Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked reaffirmed Tuesday her country's support for Morocco's autonomy plan for Western Sahara during her visit to Rabat. "Israel confirms its support for Morocco's sovereignty over the Sahara," Shaked told a press conference after meeting with Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita. The meeting with the head of Moroccan diplomacy also highlighted "the strong bilateral relations and the joint projects that the two countries will carry out".
This statement reaffirms the Israeli position on Western Sahara after the head of the diplomatic delegation in October 2021 showed Israel's support for "direct negotiations between all parties concerned". This came after support for Morocco's plan on the Sahara from then US President Donald Trump in exchange for Morocco's establishment of diplomatic relations with Israel, the so-called Abraham Accords, reached with Washington's mediation.
Shaked also met with her Moroccan counterpart, Abdeluafi Laftit, with whom she discussed bilateral economic cooperation, especially in the field of water delimitation and cooperation on medical issues. "My goal in a month's time is to sign a final agreement to bring foreign nursing and construction workers from Morocco to Israel. The relationship between the countries has enormous potential," Shaked said.
The minister also thanked Abdeluafi Laftit for the speed with which visas are being granted to Israeli citizens visiting Morocco. In this regard, Morocco was visited by more than 40,000 Israelis in 2021. According to a statement from the Moroccan Ministry, "the working meeting was a fruitful exchange between the two ministers on the relevant issues of competence of their departments and the promising prospects for cooperation between the two countries".
Shaked's visit, which comes at a time of crisis in the Israeli government following the coalition leaders' decision to dissolve parliament and bring forward elections, also coincides with the closing of the second round of the so-called 'Strategic Political Dialogue' between Israel and Morocco in Rabat.
According to an Israeli official who participated in the second round, the two sides discussed opportunities for economic cooperation in sectors such as water, agriculture and advanced technologies, as well as other issues related to Iranian expansion in some Middle Eastern countries and the current situation in Africa. "We discussed cooperation in African countries in the humanitarian, development and counter-terrorism fields," the Israeli diplomat said.
The representatives of the two states also discussed the situation in Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank following the latest clashes between Palestinians and Israelis, although without reaching any conclusions. The Israeli official acknowledged that there are certain differences between the two countries on this issue because Morocco condemned the actions of the Israeli authorities on 17 April in the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, claiming that these actions disrupted peace efforts.
In any case, the Israeli Interior Minister's visit to Rabat marks the third official visit by an Israeli representative to Morocco since the resumption of diplomatic relations between Morocco and Israel following the Abraham Accords. Since then, the two countries have reached a dozen cooperation agreements in different fields.