Israel's Lapid in Morocco on Wednesday in First High-level Visit Since Normalization Deal

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Yair Lapid at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, in June.
Yair Lapid at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, in June.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid is set to visit Morocco on Wednesday, in the first such visit by an Israeli minister since the two countries agreed to normalize ties last year in a U.S.-brokered deal.

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The Foreign Ministry said in a Tuesday statement that Lapid will inaugurate Israel's liaison office in the capital Rabat and meet with his Moroccan counterpart, Nasser Bourita.

According to the ministry, Lapid will be accompanied by members of the Social Affairs Ministry, the Health Ministry, and the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

Lapid, the first Israeli foreign minister to visit Morocco since 2003, said it was a continuation of the "long-standing friendship and deep roots and traditions that the Jewish community in Morocco, and the large community of Israelis with origins in Morocco, have."

"We will continue to work towards agreements that will bring both countries new opportunities and innovations," the minister added.  

Israel and Morocco had low-level diplomatic relations in the 1990s, but Morocco cut them off after the second intifada erupted in 2000. The two countries maintained informal ties, with thousands of Israelis traveling to Morocco each year.

Many Israeli Jews have lineage that traces back to Morocco, which is still home to a small community of several thousand Jews.

As part of the deal to establish formal ties with Israel signed in December, the United States agreed to recognize Morocco’s claim over the long-disputed Western Sahara region, though the Biden administration has said it will review that decision. Morocco’s 1975 annexation of Western Sahara is not recognized by the United Nations.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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