In a significant development, King Mohammed VI of Morocco has extended a formal invitation to the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to visit the North African kingdom. This invitation comes as a gesture of gratitude following Israel’s recognition of Morocco’s sovereignty over the contentious Western Sahara territory.
The royal summons, issued this Wednesday, warmly invites Mr. Netanyahu to visit Morocco at a mutually agreeable time, to be determined through diplomatic channels.
The Israeli Prime Minister announced his decision regarding the mineral-laden desert region via a letter which was subsequently referenced by the Moroccan royal office on Monday.
Economic, security, and tourism ties between Israel and Morocco have been strengthening progressively. This forthcoming meeting is expected to “open new possibilities in the bilateral relations between Morocco and Israel,” as per King Mohammed.
The Moroccan monarch praised Israel’s decision, affirming that the issue of Western Sahara represents “the national cause of the kingdom and the priority of its foreign policy”.
Around 80 per cent of the vast 266,000-square-kilometre desert region is currently administered by Morocco. The remaining portion of this sparsely populated area is controlled by the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, a breakaway state supported by Algeria and not internationally recognised by the United Nations.
Several Arab and African nations, along with the US, back Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara. The ongoing territorial dispute has led to the closure of land borders between Algeria and Morocco since the early 1990s due to security apprehensions.
Earlier this year, an attempt to mollify the strained relations was made by King Mohammed when he invited Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune for discussions in Rabat. However, the King chose not to attend the first Arab League summit in three years, hosted by Algeria in November.
A thaw in Israel-Morocco relations was observed as part of the 2020 Abraham Accords, with encouragement from the then-US President Donald Trump, who acknowledged Morocco’s rule over the Western Sahara region.
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