Morocco and Israel concluded on Wednesday an “unprecedented” security agreement during a historic visit to Rabat by Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, amid tensions between the Cherifian kingdom and its neighbor Algeria.
The framework agreement was signed by Mr. Gantz and the Minister Delegate in charge of the Moroccan National Defense Administration, Abdellatif Loudiyi.
It formally launches the security cooperation “in all its aspects” between the two countries, barely a year after the normalization of their relations, facing “threats and challenges in the region.
This memorandum of understanding (MoU) covers “exchanges of experience and expertise, technology transfer, training and cooperation in the field of defense industry,” said the Moroccan side, which also reported a cooperation agreement on “cyber security.
The agreement — the first of its kind with an Arab country, according to the Israeli side — will facilitate the acquisition by Morocco of technologies from Israel’s military industry.
“This is a very important thing that … will promote Israeli exports so far,” Gantz said.
– American support –
The Hebrew state is one of the world’s leading exporters of armed drones and security software such as the controversial Pegasus from NSO.
However, sales of armed drones and certain advanced technologies, such as the Pegasus spy software, must be approved by the Ministry of Defense headed by Mr. Gantz.
Morocco, which has been challenged, categorically denies having purchased the software and has announced that it has filed “defamation” complaints against media outlets that have claimed that Rabat has used it to infiltrate the phones of several national and foreign public figures.
“The relationship with Morocco is not based on arms sales but on the long-term strengthening of our ties in the region,” an Israeli defense official said on condition of anonymity.
Gantz also met Wednesday with Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita.
He met with the inspector general of the Moroccan Royal Armed Forces (FAR), General Belkhir El Farouk, and attended a paratrooper training session.
Morocco and Israel had already established diplomatic relations in the early 1990s before Rabat ended them at the start of the Second Intifada, the Palestinian uprising of the early 2000s.
Now allies in a tense regional context, they renewed relations in December 2020 as part of the “Abraham Accords,” a process of normalization of relations between the Jewish state and Arab countries supported by the administration of former U.S. President Donald Trump.
In exchange, Washington recognized Morocco’s “full sovereignty” over Western Sahara, a territory disputed with the Sahrawi independence fighters of the Polisario Front supported by Algeria.