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Israel, Morocco sign security deal as minister visits

By AFP - Nov 25,2021 - Last updated at Nov 25,2021

RABAT — Israel and Morocco signed a security agreement Wednesday making it easier for Rabat to acquire high-tech exports from Israel's defence industry, as the countries expand ties following their normalisation deal last year.

The memorandum of understanding signed in Rabat by visiting Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz and Morocco's minister in charge of defence administration, Abdellatif Loudiyi, was "unprecedented", an Israeli official said.

Israel has several security accords with allied nations, but the Morocco deal marks the first-of-its-kind agreement with a majority Arab nation, the official said, asking not to be named.

The Morocco deal came as Gantz made the first visit by an Israeli defence minister to the North African kingdom.

Gantz said the deal "will enable Israeli exports here [to Morocco]".

Israel's defence ministry oversees all security exports, with Israel offering state-of-art products ranging from attack drones to the Iron Dome missile defence system.

The defence ministry said the Morocco MoU will establish "formal cooperation" on "operational planning, purchases, research development, and training".

One Israeli product, the NSO’s Pegasus spyware, has already made its way to Morocco, according to Amnesty International and Paris-based organisation Forbidden Stories.

Rabat allegedly used it against French President Emmanuel Macron — a claim denied by Morocco which said it never bought the software and has filed lawsuits against French media and Amnesty.

An Israeli defence official stressed that “relations with Morocco are not based on arms sales” alone.

In Morocco, Israel was eyeing “long-term bonds that are a cornerstone of Israeli security”, the official said.

Gantz was due to meet Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita later Wednesday.

 

‘Recalibrating’ 

 

Morocco and Israel previously set up low-level ties in 1993 but Rabat broke them off at the start of the second Palestinian Intifada, or uprising, in 2000.

Rabat normalised ties with Israel last December, shortly after similar announcements by the UAE and Bahrain. Sudan followed suit in January but has yet to build relations.

Those pacts brokered by former US president Donald Trump infuriated the Palestinians, who urged the Arab world to maintain its stand against recognising Israel until it agrees to a peace deal establishing a Palestinian state with its capital in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem.

There have been calls for a pro-Palestinian demonstration against Gantz’s visit in front of Morocco’s parliament on Wednesday.

Bruce Maddy-Weitzman, an Israeli expert on Morocco at Tel Aviv University, told AFP that Rabat had not abandoned the Palestinian issue but was “recalibrating” its position given the benefits of dealing with Israel, including its defence industry.

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