U.S. Considering $3 Billion in Morocco Investments After Israel Deal, Report Says

Go-between told Rabat of possible investments after king was hesitant about normalizing ties with Israel, Moroccan officials tell New York Times, but Trump administration official says there's no connection

Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Morocco's King Mohammed VI arrives for a lunch at the Elysee Palace as part of the One Planet Summit in Paris, France, December 12, 2017.
Morocco's King Mohammed VI arrives for a lunch at the Elysee Palace as part of the One Planet Summit in Paris, France, December 12, 2017.Credit: Philippe Wojazer/Reuters

U.S. President Donald Trump's administration is ready to facilitate as much as $3 billion worth of investments in Morocco, a Moroccan investor working as a go-between for the two countries

The U.S. is weighing investing up to $3 billion in Morocco, The New York Times reported on Thursday following the announcement of Rabat's agreement to normalize relations with Israel.

A senior official in President Donald Trump's administration confirmed to the newspaper that Washington's development finance company was considering investments worth up to that sum over three years, but said there was no connection to the normalization of ties with Israel.

Citing two Moroccan officials briefed on negotiations ahead of the agreement, the newspaper reported that Morocco's king balked at normalization with Israel in exchange for U.S. recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over the contested Western Sahara region. Investor Yariv Elbaz later informed Rabat that the U.S. was ready to facilitate up to $3 billion worth of investments, the officials told The New York Times, which reported much of the money was intended to go to banks and hotels in Morocco, as well as a renewably energy company owned by the king.

Trump said on Thursday that Morocco and Israel had agreed to normalize relations, adding that he had signed a proclamation recognizing Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara. 

A currency dealer counts Moroccan dirhams at a money exchange in Rabat, Morocco, February 20, 2020. Credit: REUTERS/Youssef Boudlal

The Moroccan royal court said that King Mohammed VI had a phone call with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to reaffirm his commitment to a two-state solution. King Mohammed VI later added that the deal in no way affected the kingdom's "determination to continue working for a comprehensive and just peace in the Middle East."

Israel and Morocco have had covert relations for decades, and the latter openly accepts tourists from Israel. Following the Oslo Accords, ties solidified publicly, with then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres attended the opening of an Israeli representation office. After the second intifada erupted in 2000, ties became secretive again.

Western Sahara was occupied by Spain until 1976. Morocco then claimed most of the territory but faced guerrilla resistance from the local population. The United Nations has maintained that Western Sahara's Sahrawi people have a legitimate right to self-determination.

Morocco is the fourth country since August to strike a deal aimed at normalizing relations with Israel. The others were the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan.

Click the alert icon to follow topics: