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Moroccan king invites Netanyahu for official visit after Western Sahara recognition

Moroccan king invites Netanyahu for official visit after Western Sahara recognition
King Mohammed VI of Morocco delivers a speech   -  
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King Mohammed VI invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Morocco after the Jewish state recognized Morocco's sovereignty over the disputed territory of Western Sahara, a "far-sighted" decision, according to a message of thanks published on Wednesday.

"You are welcome to visit Morocco, on dates at our best mutual convenience, to be defined through diplomatic channels," wrote the Cherifian sovereign in his message.

This meeting "will open up new possibilities for bilateral relations between Morocco and Israel," he said.

According to a statement from Netanyahu's office in Jerusalem, Israeli National Security Adviser Tzahi Hanegbi and Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita "decided this evening to jointly set a date in the near future" for the visit.

The question of Western Sahara is "the national cause of the kingdom and the priority of its foreign policy", underlines Mohammed VI in his message, welcoming an "important decision (which is) both fair and far-sighted".

"It is part of the irreversible international dynamic which sees many countries (...) favoring a definitive political solution to this anachronistic regional dispute, on the basis of the Moroccan autonomy initiative for the Sahara region and in the framework of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Kingdom", he continues.

Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony, is considered a "non-self-governing territory" by the UN in the absence of a definitive settlement. For nearly 50 years, an armed conflict has opposed Morocco to the separatists of the Polisario Front, supported by neighboring Algeria.

Rabat advocates an autonomy plan under its exclusive sovereignty, while the Polisario calls for a self-determination referendum under the aegis of the UN, planned when a ceasefire was signed in 1991 but never materialized.

Morocco exerts intense pressure on its international partners – particularly France, through a relentless media campaign – to recognize the "Moroccanness" of the territory.

Morocco and Israel normalized diplomatic relations in December 2020 as part of the Abraham Accords, a process between Israel and several Arab countries, backed by Washington.

Since their diplomatic normalization, the two allies have been working to accelerate their cooperation, mainly in military, security, trade, and tourism.

But this all-out rapprochement is not unanimous in Morocco, especially since the accession to power in Israel of ultra-nationalist currents.

If the militant mobilization has weakened, the Palestinian cause continues to arouse immense sympathy within the Moroccan population.

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