Politics

First direct flight between Morocco, Israel lands in Rabat

Rabat, Dec 22 (efe-epa).- The first direct commercial flight between Morocco and Israel since the two countries normalized relations landed in Rabat from Tel Aviv on Tuesday with an Israeli-American delegation led by Jared Kushner, son-in-law and advisor to outgoing US president Donald Trump.

The flight follows the agreement on the restoration of bilateral ties between Morocco and Israel announced on 10 December.

The US delegation includes the US envoy for the Middle East, Avi Berkowitz, and Adam Boehler, the executive head of the US International Development Finance Corporation.

The Israeli delegation is headed by National Security Advisor Meir Ben Shabbat, and with him are representatives of the Israeli Ministries of Health, Tourism and Economy and Finance.

The plane on which the US and Israeli delegations were traveling is owned by the Israeli airline El Al, with the word “peace” in Hebrew, Arabic and English, in addition to the cultural symbol of Fatima’s hand (also known as the Hamsa in Arabic), which represents protection as well as blessings, power and strength.

The spokesman of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Hassan Kaiba, told Efe that the trip’s itinerary includes a visit of both delegations to the Mausoleum of Mohammed V and a reception at the palace in which there will be the signing of several memoranda of understanding between Moroccan and Israeli officials in the fields of agriculture, trade and technology, in addition to the signing of the agreement to reopen two liaison offices in Rabat and Tel Aviv (which were open between 1994 and 2002).

Kaiba pointed out that despite the suspension of relations between Morocco and Israel in 2000, cooperation between the two countries has continued — albeit unofficially — and several Israeli companies, specifically agricultural ones, operate in the Maghreb country, in addition to the at least 50,000 Israeli tourists who visit Morocco each year.

At the same time, more than one million Jews living in Israel are of Moroccan origin and maintain the culture and customs of their country of origin.

Tuesday’s flight follows an announcement on December 10 of an agreement to re-establish diplomatic relations between Israel and Morocco, a rapprochement that was mediated by the White House.

The normalization of ties with Israeli announced simultaneously with the US’ recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over the restive territory of Western Sahara.

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