Morocco’s King Mohammed VI and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to normalize relations between their respective countries on Thursday, following the lead of other Arab states like Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Sudan, Jordan and Egypt. The US contributed to the deal between Israel and Morocco by recognizing Morocco’s sovereignty over West Sahara.
Netanyahu spoke positively of the agreement between the two nations, recognizing the history between Morocco and Israel:
The people of Morocco and the Jewish people have had a warm relationship in the modern period. Everybody knows the tremendous friendship shown by the kings of Morocco and the people of Morocco to the Jewish community there. And hundreds of thousands of these Moroccan Jews came to Israel, and they form a human bridge between our two countries and our two peoples, of sympathy respect, of fondness and love. I think that this is the foundation on which we can now build this peace.
Breaking from past US policy, President Donald Trump’s proclamation of Morocco’s sovereignty stated: “[The US] reaffirms its support for Morocco’s serious, credible, and realistic autonomy proposal as the only basis for a just and lasting solution to the dispute over the Western Sahara territory.” Sovereignty over the Western Sahara territory has been disputed between Morocco and the Polisario Front since the 1970s.
Trump also made a public statement regarding Sovereignty over Western Sahara on Twitter: “Our two GREAT friends Israel and the Kingdom of Morocco have agreed to full diplomatic relations – a massive breakthrough for peace in the Middle East!” PM Netanyahu thanked Trump for his “efforts to expand peace [and] to bring peace to Israel and the peoples of the Middle East.”
US Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) approved of the president’s efforts to foster peace between Arab nations and Israel but condemned the White House’s announcement alleging Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara. Inhofe noted that the US has always supported the Sahrawi people’s right to determine their own future. He said of Trump’s proclamation that, “[t]he president has been poorly advised by his team; he could have made this deal without trading the rights of a voiceless people.”