Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said on Monday he will travel to Morocco at the end of July, the first official visit by Israel’s top diplomat to the Arab state since ties were upgraded last year.
“This is an historic occasion,” Lapid said in televised remarks. He said his Moroccan counterpart Nasser Bourita would repay the visit by coming to Israel to inaugurate a diplomatic mission.
The two countries agreed in December 2020 to resume diplomatic ties and relaunch direct flights – part of a deal brokered by the administration of former U.S. President Donald Trump that also included Washington’s recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara.
Lapid’s said that his trip would usher in numerous economic, trade and tourism agreements and added that he hoped his visit would be followed by a meeting between Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Morocco’s King Mohammed VI.
Morocco was home to one of the largest and most prosperous Jewish communities in North Africa and the Middle East for centuries until Israel’s founding in 1948. As Jews fled or were expelled from many Arab countries, an estimated quarter of a million left Morocco for Israel from 1948 to 1964.
Today only about 3,000 Jews remain in Morocco, while hundreds of thousands of Israelis claim some Moroccan ancestry. Morocco has sought in recent years to recognise the Jewish role in its history.
Photo: Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid. EPA-EFE/ABIR SULTAN