Israel and Morocco signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on security during Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz’s visit to the North African country, according to the Israeli Defence Ministry on Wednesday.
In a statement, the ministry said the MoU was signed by Gantz and his Moroccan counterpart, Abdellatif Loudiyi, describing the deal as “pioneering”, Anadolu News Agency reports.
“The agreement provides a solid framework that formalises defence relations between the two countries, and lays a foundation that supports any future cooperation,” the statement read.
It also noted that the deal will get both countries’ defence institutions “enjoy increased cooperation in the fields of intelligence, industrial cooperation, military training and more.”
The Ministry hailed the agreement as “an important step in deepening relations between Israel and the Kingdom of Morocco, with the two already benefitting from increased economic cooperation, bilateral tourism and warm people-to-people relations.”
According to the statement, the two ministers “reiterated the importance of strengthening bilateral cooperation”.
Gantz underscored “the important role of the Kingdom of Morocco in maintaining regional peace and stability while also underlining the need to further expand normalisation and peace agreements with new partners,” the statement said.
The Times of Israel newspaper, citing an Israeli official, described the MoU as “the first such agreement between Israel and an Arab state ever”.
The official said that, despite Israel’s close security ties with Jordan and Egypt, there is no MoU with the duo, which makes Tel Aviv’s deal with Rabat “unprecedented.”The deal “formalised the defence ties between the two countries, allowing for smoother cooperation between their defence establishments and making it easier for Israel to sell arms to the North African kingdom,” the newspaper said.
Gantz arrived in Morocco late on Tuesday for a two-day official visit, the first such visit by an Israeli defence minister to the North African country.
Gantz’s visit, however, has drawn condemnations from human rights associations in Morocco.
On 10 December 2020, Israel and Morocco announced the resumption of diplomatic relations between them after they were suspended in 2002 following the second Palestinian Intifada, making Morocco the fourth Arab country to normalise relations with Israel in 2020 after the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Sudan.
Since then, an Israeli embassy has been opened in Morocco during a visit by Israeli Foreign Minister, Yair Lapid to Rabat last August. The Moroccan liaison office in Tel Aviv was also reopened, and a direct flight between the two countries was launched.