The first known direct flight from Israel to Morocco landed in Rabat on Tuesday in an historic moment for both nations.
The two countries agreed to establish full diplomatic ties earlier this month as part of a series of US-brokered normalization accords with Arab countries.
Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner led a delegation that included Israel’s National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat, on the flight which took off from Tel Aviv earlier in the day.
During the visit, both men will see Morocco’s King Mohammed VI, Israeli officials said. Moroccan and Israeli officials are also scheduled to sign accords on linking up aviation and financial systems, on visas and water management.
Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, has overseen the diplomatic push that saw the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco normalize relations with Israel in historic agreements that also brought them major favours from Washington. Palestinians have censured the US-brokered deals, seeing a betrayal of a long-standing demand that Israel first meet their statehood goals.
As the Trump administration has sought to isolate Iran, the deals have been sweetened with promises of business opportunities or economic aid. Israel’s new partners have also enjoyed bilateral benefits from Washington.
Moroccan officials describe their deal with Israel as a restoration of mid-level ties that Rabat cooled in 2000 in solidarity with Palestinians.
Israel and Morocco now plan to reopen mutual “liaison offices”. Israel hopes these will be upgraded to embassies.
As part of the deal, Morocco, which is home to a small but centuries-old Jewish community and has long welcomed Israeli tourists, secured US recognition of its 1975 annexation of the disputed region of Western Sahara, which is not recognized by the United Nations.
The US decision to recognize Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara has drawn criticism from the UN as well as American allies in Africa and beyond.
African observers have said it could destabilize the broader region, already struggling against Islamist insurgencies and migrant trafficking.
Israel has traditionally backed the UN position and has not said whether it will join the US in recognizing Moroccan control over the area.
Rita Osakwe/Agency Reports