Israel’s defense minister met his Moroccan counterpart in Rabat on Wednesday as part of a historic visit to formalize security cooperation between the two countries.
Anne Gantz and Abdeltif Loudii signed a memorandum of understanding that lays the foundation for security cooperation, intelligence sharing and future arms sales. The two countries established formal ties last year as part of the US-brokered Abraham Agreement.
Gantz’s visit is the first official visit by an Israeli defense minister to one of the Arab states that established open relations under the agreement.
The agreement was signed in a boardroom of the Moroccan Defense Ministry, attended by the military attaché and two Israeli parliamentarians.
Israel’s defense minister also met with the Moroccan military chief, and was greeted by a guard of soldiers in red tunics, blue slacks and gleaming gold epaulets.
Before his meeting with the Loudii, Gantz paid his respects at the tomb of the reigning emperor’s grandfather, Mohammed V.
Morocco, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan signed agreements to normalize ties with Israel in 2020 as part of a diplomatic pact known by the Trump administration as the Abrahamic Agreement.
Israel and Morocco enjoyed low-level diplomatic relations in the 1990s, but they were separated by Morocco after the Palestinian Uprising in 2000.
Despite this, the two states maintain informal relations. About half a million Israelis claim Moroccan heritage – more than 200,000 immigrated to Israel after the state’s founding in 1948 – and thousands of people visit the country each year.
Morocco is still home to a small Jewish community, and a remaining synagogue near Rabat is where Gantz will visit at the end of his two-day visit.
In exchange for Morocco’s normalization of relations with Israel, the Trump administration promised in December 2020 to recognize Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara, a disputed North African region.
The declaration upset decades of US policy and the international consensus that the status of Western Sahara should be decided by a United Nations referendum.
Since then, the Biden administration has cautiously backed that recognition.
The Abrahamic Agreement broke a long-standing consensus among Arab states that normalization with Israel occurs only as part of a resolution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Because of this, the Palestinians saw the agreements as a betrayal that diminished their gains with Israel.