The US opening a consulate in Laayoune would be a recognition of Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara.
Rabat – Israel has allegedly urged the US to open a general consulate in Morocco’s southern city of Laayoune, Western Sahara.
The alleged move is part of a wider Israeli scheme to garner support from Arab countries who traditionally support Palestinian interests.
A Moroccan official, who spoke to the US-based media outlet on the condition of anonymity, said that it remains unclear whether Morocco and the US are “on board with Israel’s efforts to make the U.S. the only major power with a mission there.”
Several African countries have already opened general consulates in the southern Moroccan cities of Laayoune and Dakhla, both in the Saharan region that Morocco considers as part of its sovereign territory.
The decision of the African states to open diplomatic missions in the disputed territory is a show of support for Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara.
The Bloomberg report also shone the spotlight on a news report claiming that Israel is pushing Trump to recognize Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara.
US media outlet Axios reported that Israel and the US are currently discussing a deal on the matter.
Both the US Embassy in Morocco and Morocco’s Foreign Affairs Ministry declined Bloomberg’s request for comment.
The US publication, however, recalled Morocco’s traditional position of solidarity with the Palestinian cause and the legitimate rights of Palestinians to an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
The Palestine question, however, appears to be dividing opinion within the Moroccan government.
While Head of Government Saad Eddine El Othmani and his political party Justice and Development party (PJD) continue to express firm support for the Palestinian cause, Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita told the parliament recently that Moroccans “should not be more Palestinian than the Palestinians themselves.”
Bourita reminded MPs that Morocco’s top priority issue is not Palestine, but Western Sahara.
Bourita’s remarks were a response to concerns about the government’s official statement on the unveiling of the Trump administration’s Israel-Palestine peace plan, known as the “deal of the century.”.
The Moroccan response to the US-brokered peace plan was at odds with the country’s traditional position, especially as the plan makes it clear that the US wants Jerusalem to be an “undivided” capital for Israel.
Morocco’s government said its position on the conflict is unchanged and the kingdom continues to support the Palestinian cause. However, the statement also highlighted Donald Trump’s “efforts” to end the conflict.
The daughter and advisor to the US President, Ivanka Trump, sent out a tweet saying that the world “embraced the president’s vision for peace!”
Ivanka’s Tweet featured a list of countries Israeli political analyst Arsen Ostrovsky had welcomed the plan.
The world has embraced the President’s vision for peace! https://t.co/RU5IaLmzX3
— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) January 30, 2020
The list includes, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, the UAE, Australia, and India among other countries.
According to the Israeli analyst, only Palestine and Iran oppose the plan.
The statement raised eyebrows both nationally and internationally.
Morocco’s government continues to refute the rumors of normalization with Israel.
French website Intelligence Online reported last week that Morocco bought three Heron drones from Israel for a deal of $48 million.
Other reports on trade between the two countries suggest that trade channels remain open. In 2018, Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) reported that Morocco traded $37 million worth of goods with Israel in 2017.