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Western Sahara: Israel recognises Morocco's claim over disputed territory

Morocco and Israel have normalised diplomatic relations since 2020.   -  
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Israel has recognised Morocco's sovereignty over the disputed territory of Western Sahara, in a move that will add momentum to Morocco's move to solidify its claim on the region.

In a announcement on Monday, Morocco's Royal Palace said that Israel had stated their position on the matter in a letter sent by Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Morocco's King Mohammed VI. 

Israel confirmed this in a statement from the Israeli prime minister's office. 

Disputed territory

The territory of Western Sahara was formerly a Spanish colony, until it was annexed by Morocco in 1975. 

The United Nations has listed it as Non-Self-Governing Territory. Morocco claims the territory as its own but the Western Sahara's indigenous Sahrawi people, led by the Algeria-backed Polisario Front want an independent state. 

Israel's decision comes amidst increased rivalry between Morocco and Algeria, the two neighbouring countries having broken off diplomatic relations in 2021. 

Normalised relations

The US recognised Morocco's claim to the territory in 2020 on condition of a resumption of diplomatic ties between Morocco and Israel. 

The two countries normalised relations in December 2020, as part of the Abraham Accords, a process which involved Israel and several Arab countries. 

Since then, Morocco and Israel have signed a number of cooperation agreements, including a defence pact. 

Following Monday's announcement however, a senior Moroccan government official underlined that Israel's recognition would not sway Morocco's support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

Continued cooperation

As relations between the two countries continue to warm, the official says he expects the decision will encourage investments in the territory. 

Israel's announcement would "strengthen the relations between the countries and between the peoples and the continuation of cooperation to deepen regional peace and stability", Israeli foreign minister Eli Cohen said.

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