Morocco says Israel recognises its sovereignty over Western Sahara

RABAT (Reuters): Morocco said on Monday that Israel has recognised its sovereignty over the disputed territory of Western Sahara and is mulling opening a consulate there.

A statement from Morocco’s royal palace said Israel’s position was expressed in a letter to King Mohammed VI from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

As part of this recognition, Israel is mulling opening a consulate in Dakhla, the statement said.

The Algerian-backed Polisario Front demands an independent state in Western Sahara. In 2020, then-U.S. President Donald Trump recognised Morocco’s claim to the territory in return for Morocco’s resumption of diplomatic ties with Israel.

The Israeli position “will be sent to the United Nations, regional and international organisations,” the statement from Morocco’s royal palace quotes the letter as saying.

Twenty-eight other countries – mostly African and Arab – have opened consulates in Dakhla or the city of Laayoune, in what Morocco sees as tangible support for its Western Saharan rule.

Israel’s position on Western Sahara is “clear-cut” and adds to the momentum in Morocco’s favour, after Washington and Madrid in addition to other European capitals supported its plan for the territory, a senior government official told Reuters.

The Israeli recognition will not affect Morocco’s “principles” in defending the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he added.

Morocco expects the decision to encourage Israeli investments in the territory, he said. As an indication of warming ties, the Israeli military earlier on Monday appointed a colonel as defence attaché to Morocco.

Since the resumption of ties, Morocco and Israel have signed cooperation agreements, including a defence pact.

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