Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita urges the new Biden administration to maintain the agreement reached by President Trump earlier this month, under which the US has agreed to recognize Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara, and Morocco has agreed to resume diplomatic relations with Israel.
What it says: “We realistically believe that the administration will find a good justification for keeping this,” Bourita told me in an exclusive interview on a US-Israel-Morocco trilateral summit in Rabat on Tuesday.
“We hope that the next administration will continue this positive dynamic and feed what we have built because it was made for peace. What we have here is a package that has been signed and the first commitment that everyone has made has been to defend, promote and update this package. “
– Nasser Bourita to Axios
Why does it matter: US recognition of Western Sahara was a controversial step that reversed decades of American politics. Israel and Morocco are worried that if Biden returns, the rest of the deal could fall apart.
Game status: Biden did not welcome the agreement, but did not criticize it either.
The other side: Bourita said the agreement was about peace and stability in the region and the end of two more protracted disputes: the Western Sahara conflict and the Arab-Israeli confrontation. “We need to be game-oriented and not process-oriented,” he said.
News management: On Tuesday, a US-Israeli delegation led by Jared Kushner and Israeli National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat took a direct flight from Tel Aviv to Rabat.
- Kushner and Ben-Shabat met with King Mohammed VI and signed six agreements on direct flights, investments and visas.
- Morocco and Israel have pledged to reopen diplomatic missions in Tel Aviv and Rabat in two weeks, with technical delegations in both countries set to begin work next week.
- Both countries have maintained diplomatic property since relations were severed two decades ago, acknowledging that it could one day reopen, Israeli and Moroccan officials say.
Bourita told me that Morocco is different from the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan – which have normalized relations with Israel in the past few months – as Morocco first established formal relations with Israel in the early 1990s.
- “I told our American friends from the beginning, ‘Don’t give everyone the same shirt.’
- “We have been pioneers of relations with Israel. For us, it is an important event, but we are not building from scratch … It is about renewing traditional contacts and building something sustainable.”
- “Everything is normal now “We don’t intend to go here only halfway,” Bourita said.
What’s next: Bourita said 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 it and King Mohammed VI is ready to do it when there are conditions and when there is a demand. His Majesty has credibility, “Bourita said.
Not worth anything: It was crucial for Morocco to associate the normalization of Israel, a step that polls suggest only a small part of Moroccan support, with a much more unifying cause: the recognition of Moroccan control over Western Sahara.
Go deeper: Trump gives Morocco a long-awaited discovery