Morocco asks Israel to recognise Western Sahara sovereignty before opening Rabat embassy

Morocco asks Israel to recognise Western Sahara sovereignty before opening Rabat embassy
Morocco was accused of selling Palestinians down the river when it normalised ties with Israel.
2 min read
06 January, 2023
Israel is hoping to open an embassy in the Moroccan capital Rabat [Getty]

Morocco has demanded Israel recognise its sovereignty over the disputed Western Sahara region before it opens an embassy in the capital Rabat, according to reports.

Four current and former Israeli officials told Axios that Israel was told that if it recognises the contested territory as Moroccan it will be allowed to upgrade its diplomatic presence in the kingdom.

Morocco controversially announced in December 2020 that it would establish diplomatic ties with Israel following a drive by former US President Donald Trump to have Arab states recognise Israel. 

The move was widely rejected by Moroccans and led to protests calling for an end to relations with Israel, which continues to occupy the Palestinian West Bank and besiege the Gaza Strip.

Despite Egypt, Jordan, the UAE, Morocco, and Bahrain establishing ties with Israel, an Arab League initiative that rules out normalisation until an indepdenent Palestinian state is established remains formally in place.

Live Story

The Israel-Morocco deal saw the US - but not Israel - recognise Rabat's sovereignty over the Western Sahara region, where a separatist insurgency has brewed for decades.

Israel currently operates a diplomatic liaison office in Morocco but is yet to open an embassy in the kingdom.

The UAE, which led to a push toward normalisation, opened its embassy in Tel Aviv in 2021.

Israel has opened embassies in Bahrain and the UAE but is yet to open ones in Sudan and Morocco.

Arab public opinion has widely rejected the UAE-led push toward normalisation with Israel. This was shown when Israeli journalists attempted to report from Qatar during the 2022 World Cup and found Arab fans refusing to talk to them.

A poll by the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies for 2019/20 found that 88 percent of respondents in the Arab world rejected normalisation with Israel.