Unlike many other observers, the Israeli diplomat felt that Morocco’s decision to establish relations with his country did not come as a surprise.
Rabat – Morocco’s decision to establish ties with Israel came as a surprise to many. Since its announcement, the decision has drawn both criticism and support.
December 10 marked a historic day for both Moroccans and the members of Jewish communities across the world who can trace their roots to Morocco, with one major announcement following another.
It was a Friday, a relatively calm day, when former US President Donald Trump published a series of tweets that signaled a turning point in the Western Sahara conflict.
The first major news was his country’s decision to recognize Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara.
Part of Trump’s series of tweets on the announcement also included Morocco’s decision to establish ties with Israel.
Moments later, Morocco’s royal cabinet issued a press release, in which King Mohammed VI thanked the US for its decision in respect of its territorial integrity and announced the Rabat-Tel Aviv rapprochement.
The announcement generated a range of reactions from the international community. Israeli diplomats and senior officials expressed satisfaction with the move, hoping to see more Arab countries involved in the “Deal of the Century” agreements.
Morocco World News interviewed Danny Danon, who served as Israel’s 17th Permanent Representative to the UN. He spoke not only of Morocco’s decision to establish ties with Tel Aviv but also of the US position on Western Sahara.
Danon, who is also the World Likud chairman, expressed pride regarding Trump’s decision to recognize Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara.
Western Sahara: New administration will not change US’ position
He predicts that the new US administration will seize the decision as an opportunity.
“I believe the US administration will build on the decision because it will help stability in the region. I would advise them to ask themselves [about the impact on stability] regarding the future decisions.”
Danon said that the US administration knows what will increase regional stability and factors that will harm it.
When MWN asked the former Israeli diplomat about his country’s position regarding Western Sahara, he said that he does not like to speak officially on behalf of the Israeli government.
The official did, however, speak of the Joint Declaration Israel, Morocco, and the US signed in December 2020.
The Joint Declaration highlighted the US decision to recognize Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara.
He said that once observers look at the agreement between Morocco and the US, they will understand that Israel supports Morocco’s position and territorial integrity.
Rapprochement with Morocco, a momentum
Danon also expressed pride about his country’s ability to secure a favorable position regarding its “peace” approach in the Middle East and MENA region at large.
Citing his past visits to Morocco, Danon said he was optimistic about the “normalization agreements” under the auspices of the prior US administration.
“I was grateful for the support of the US who helped the sides come together and facilitate the agreement,” the former Israeli ambassador told MWN. This “will benefit not only Israel and Morocco but also will bring more stability in the region,” he added.
Danon said he was involved in the early stages of the process of the normalization agreement between Morocco and Israel.
Later he was in direct contact with some colleagues and the US administration, he explained.
“I was very happy to see it becoming a reality.”
Before Morocco’s official announcement, several senior officials in Rabat denied reports that the North African country was planning to join other states who decided to establish ties with Israel.
At the time, only Bahrain, the UAE, and Sudan had publicly announced their decision, with Trump’s administration vowing that over six other countries will follow the trend.
Unlike many, Danon does not believe that the Moroccan decision was unexpected.
“It was not a surprise. It required active involvement of a third party, in this case the US. We had cooperation in the past even without normalization.”
King Mohammed VI’s possible visit to Israel
Recently, Israeli news outlets published rumors that Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seeks to secure a visit from King Mohammed VI before upcoming elections.
Such a visit will have an influence, especially among Moroccan-Jewish communities across the world. Some other news outlets, however, cited sources saying that a royal visit to Tel Aviv depends on the relaunch of negotiations between Israel and Palestine.
MWN asked Danon whether there are any arrangements in process to receive King Mohammed VI in Israel.
The diplomat said that his country will be very honored if the monarch makes a visit, citing the weight of late former Egyptian President Anouar Saddat’s visit to Tel Aviv.
“He left a great impact,” Danon said, speaking about the mutual peace that continues to last between Israel and Egypt.
Answering MWN’s question regarding the relaunch of Israel-Palestine negotiations, Danon hopes to see Morocco, a “moderate country” as he described the North African state, involved in dialogue with Palestine.
When Morocco announced its decision to establish ties with Israel, Rabat made it clear that it will not abandon its activism in support of the legitimate rights of Palestinians and their right to dignity.
Danon believes that a regional approach will lead to fruitful outcomes to convene Palestine and Israel around one table for negotiations.
“If we take a regional approach, this might help the process.”
Cooperation existed prior to formal normalization
Commenting on Morocco’s decision, Danon said that Tel Aviv and Rabat were cooperating in different fields even before normalization.
“We had a relationship in the past. We share mutual respect. Morocco is an important country,” he said, citing the attachment of the Jewish-Moroccan community to their homeland.
“One million Jews who live in Israel are descended from Morocco,” he added.
Even before the peace accord between the two countries, Morocco has long expressed a commitment to preserve Jewish heritage and its attachment to the Jewish community who live within and outside the country.
Jews in Morocco numbered over 200,000 in the 1940s. After Israel’s founding, Most members of the Moroccan-Jewish community emigrated to either Israel or to Canada, France, or the US.
Areas of cooperation to include counterterrorism
The US has consistently expressed satisfaction with Morocco’s counterterrorism approach. The State Department issues press releases annually, touting cooperation with Morocco in the field.
The Israeli diplomat believes there is “no doubt” that both countries will work with each other to fight terrorism, describing Morocco as a country that works to ensure regional stability.
“Morocco is a country that contributes to stabilize the region. Such cooperation is very important,” Danon stressed.
The former ambassador emphasized that cooperation will also touch on technology, trade, and tourism.
“You will see very many Israelis visiting the region and supporting Morocco’s economy,” he said.
Morocco and Israel vowed to launch direct flights between the two countries as part of their agreement. Asked why the decision has not yet been implemented, Danon told MWN that it will be just a matter of time.
He cited the COVID-19 pandemic as the reason for the perceived delay. He added that the decision will manifest in flights once Israel lifts its nationwide lockdown, which is part of its preventive measures to counter the spread of the pandemic.
Israel seeks to expose relations with other Arab countries
Danon expressed hope to see more Arab countries willing to expose their relations with Israel publicly.
Asked whether he believes that more countries will join the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan, he said that his country has relations with many states.
“The challenge Israel is facing right now is to get to the point to expose these relations and make them public,” he stressed.
He vowed that the US will continue to support Israel’s rapprochement, emphasizing the importance of pushing for normalization to ensure greater stability in the region.
“I am optimistic that these peace accords will also spread peace between peoples rather than just between countries,” he concluded.