Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Morocco’s King Mohammed VI. informed in a letter about Israel’s decision to respect “Morocco’s sovereignty” over the desert region, which is rich in raw materials, the royal court in the capital Rabat announced. In his letter, Netanyahu said his country’s position would be reflected in “all relevant acts and documents of the Israeli government.”
Israel will communicate its decision to the United Nations, international organizations and all countries with which the country has diplomatic relations, the letter said. Netanyahu also stated that Israel is looking positively into “opening a consulate in the city of Dakhla” in the Moroccan part of Western Sahara. Morocco wants its allies to open diplomatic missions in Western Sahara in recognition of the territory’s belonging to the kingdom.
The Israeli government confirmed the recognition shortly thereafter. Secretary of State Eli Cohen said the decision will “strengthen relations between states and peoples” and strengthen cooperation to promote peace and regional stability.
unresolved ongoing conflict
Western Sahara was a Spanish colony until 1975. After Spain left, Morocco annexed several areas of the territory. Since then, Rabat has controlled large parts of the sparsely populated but resource-rich desert region. The government in Rabat only wants to grant autonomy to the region. The Polisario Front is striving for an independent state in Western Sahara and is calling for an independence referendum. It is supported by Algeria.
Israel and Morocco normalized their relations in 2020 through the so-called Abraham Accords, brokered by the US. At the time, both Morocco and Sudan followed Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, which relaxed their relations with Israel. As part of the agreement with Morocco, the then US President Donald Trump confirmed in December 2020, shortly before the end of his term in office, that the US would recognize its claim to sovereignty over Western Sahara. Otherwise, Morocco’s claim has not yet been recognized internationally.
kle/sti (afp, dpa)