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Israel’s Knesset speaker: ‘We should recognize Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara’

June 07, 2023

Amir Ohana says Israel should make such a recognition 'just as our closest ally the United States did by signing the Abraham Accords'

Speaker of the Israeli Parliament Amir Ohana continued his trip to Morocco on Thursday, during which he assured Rabat: "We should recognize Morocco's sovereignty over Western Sahara."

“I have already said it and I repeat it very clearly as Speaker of the Knesset: Israel should move towards a recognition of the Moroccan Sahara, just as our closest ally the United States did by signing the Abraham Accords," said Ohana. 

"There are currently serious discussions between our governments on this issue, and I believe that [Israel's] Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu will announce his decision in the near future," he said on the sidelines of a meeting with his Moroccan counterpart Rachid Talbi Alami.

Western Sahara is a disputed territory on the northwestern coast of Africa and the site of a decades-long, violent tension between the Kingdom of Morocco and the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic. Since 1975, the territory has been the scene of a war for independence, from intense demonstrations to bloody clashes.

Ohana arrived in Rabat the day before at the invitation of his Moroccan counterpart, making it the first official visit by a Knesset speaker to a Muslim country. It was also the first visit by an Israeli official of his rank to the North African kingdom since the signing of the Abraham Accords in 2020.

On Ohana’s agenda were discussions with the head of the Moroccan Parliament, Rachid Talbi El Alami, as well as a meeting with the parliamentary friendship group Morocco-Israel. The Knesset leader is also expected to sign a memorandum of understanding on cooperation between the two legislatures and meet with representatives of Morocco's Jewish community.

"History is taking shape before our eyes, and it brings good news of strengthening and consolidating relations between the two countries, bringing the two peoples closer together, and widening the circle of peace," declared Ohana shortly after his arrival in Rabat.

Himself of Moroccan origin, the number three in the Israeli government began his stay in Rabat with a visit to the famous Rabbi Shalom Zaoui synagogue, the one where his father used to pray before emigrating to Israel.

“It is a great privilege for me to be here and to sit where my father sat, praying daily in front of the Ark of the Covenant and filled with the desire to join Israel and Jerusalem,” he said.

Ohana then proudly brandished in front of the camera the headlines of Moroccan newspapers on which he appears, saying he was proud of his origins. He also emphasized the framework of peace and prosperity in which the Moroccan Jewish community lives and the fact that King Mohammed VI was the guarantor of the security of all citizens of the kingdom, regardless of their faith.

During his meeting with his Moroccan counterpart, Ohana will present him with the smallest copy of the Quran in the world which has 320,000 letters. It was printed using nanotechnology, a unique Israeli innovation.

Israeli National Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi, for his part, was received on Wednesday by the Moroccan Foreign Minister in Rabat.

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