Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita is asking the new Biden government to preserve the agreement sealed by President Trump earlier this month, according to which the United States agreed to recognize Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara and Morocco agreed to resume diplomatic relations with Israel.
What is he saying: “We realistically believe that the government will find a good reason to preserve that,” Bourita told me in an exclusive interview on the sidelines of a US-Israel-Morocco trilateral summit on Tuesday in Rabat.
“We hope that the next government will continue this positive dynamic and feed what we have built because it was done for peace. What we have here is a package that was signed and everyone’s first commitment was to defend, promote and update this package. “
– Nasser Bourita for Axios
Why it matters: The recognition of Western Sahara by the United States was a controversial step that reversed decades of American politics. Israel and Morocco fear that if Biden steps back, the rest of the deal could fall apart.
Situation: Biden did not like the deal, but neither did he criticize it.
The other side: Bourita said the deal was about peace and stability in the region, and about ending two disputes that lasted longer than they should have: the conflict in Western Sahara and the Arab-Israeli standoff. “We need to be oriented towards the end of the game and not oriented towards the process,” he said.
Driving the news: On Tuesday, an Israeli-American delegation led by Jared Kushner and Israel’s national security adviser, Meir Ben-Shabbat, took a direct flight from Tel Aviv to Rabat.
- Kushner and Ben-Shabat met King Mohammed VI and signed six agreements on direct flights, investments and visas.
- Morocco and Israel have pledged to reopen diplomatic representation offices in Tel Aviv and Rabat in two weeks, with technical delegations from both countries scheduled to begin this work next week.
- Both countries have maintained their existing diplomatic properties since relations were broken two decades ago, recognizing that they might one day reopen, Israeli and Moroccan officials said.
Bourita told me that Morocco is different United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan – which normalized relations with Israel in the previous months – because Morocco established formal relations with Israel in the early 1990s.
- “We told our American friends from the beginning, ‘Don’t give everyone the same shirt.'”
- “We were the pioneers in relations with Israel. For us it is a great event, but we are not building from scratch. … It is about renewing traditional contacts and building something that will last ”.
- “Everything is normal now – we do not intend to arrive here only in half “, said Bourita.
What is the next: Bourita said that Morocco wants to be a bridge builder between Jews and Muslims in the region and can also help in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
- “The late King Hassan II did this and King Mohammed VI is ready to do it when conditions are right and when there is a request. His majesty has credibility, “said Bourita.
Worthless: It was crucial for Morocco to unite Israel’s normalization, a step that polls suggest only a small slice of support from Moroccans, with a much more unifying cause: recognition of Moroccan control over Western Sahara.
Go deeper: Trump delivers long-awaited breakthrough to Morocco