Israeli FM Lapid opens diplomatic mission to Morocco

Yair Lapid is due to visit a synagogue in Casablanca, a city known for its Jewish community, before returning to Israel

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid inaugurated his country’s diplomatic mission to Morocco on Thursday, during the first visit to Rabat by a top Israeli envoy in nearly two decades.

On the second of a two-day visit to the North African kingdom, Mr Lapid wore a face mask decorated with the countries’ flags as he cut a ribbon to open Israel’s representative office.

“What did we achieve from all these years, during which the relations between our two ancient and proud nations were severed? Nothing,” the foreign minister said on Tuesday.

“What did our citizens gain? Nothing. Today, we are changing this,” he said, standing alongside his Moroccan counterpart Nasser Bourita.

Mr Lapid’s visit marks the first time an Israeli foreign minister has visited Morocco since 2003, after Rabat closed its diplomatic mission to Tel Aviv following the outbreak of the second Palestinian uprising.

The two nations resumed relations in December, as part of a US-backed deal.

After the UAE, Bahrain and Sudan, Morocco became the fourth Arab nation to normalise ties with Israel last year. The Palestinian leadership rejected the agreements.

During Mr Lapid’s visit, Mr Bourita said Morocco’s King Mohammed VI “called for the resumption of negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis to reach a lasting solution based on the two-state solution”.

The two foreign ministers on Tuesday signed co-operation deals in areas such as culture and aviation.

Direct flights between the countries were launched last month, a route which is expected to benefit the sizeable Moroccan community in Israel.

More than 275,000 Moroccans have emigrated to Israel since the country was founded in 1948, the Central Bureau of Statistics says.

Mr Lapid is due to visit a synagogue in Casablanca, a city known for its Jewish community, before returning to Israel.

Updated: August 12th 2021, 5:18 PM
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