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Morocco, Israel normalize relations in US-brokered deal

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Morocco and Israel agreed on Thursday to normalize relations in a U.S.-brokered deal. As part of the agreement, US President Donald Trump agreed to recognize Morocco's sovereignty over the disputed Western Sahara, where Polisario Front, seeks to establish an independent state.

Morocco is the fourth Arab country since August to normalize relations with Israel. The others were the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the normalization deal with Morocco as "another great light of peace", saying there would be direct flights between the countries and the opening of diplomatic missions.

Palestinians denounce

Palestinian officials reacted angrily to the announcement. Bassam as-Salhi, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization's Executive Committee, condemned the deal.

"Any Arab retreat from the [2002] Arab Peace Initiative, which stipulates that normalization comes only after Israel ends its occupation of Palestinian and Arab lands, is unacceptable and increases Israel's belligerence and its denial of the Palestinian people's rights," Salhi was quoted by Al Jazeera as saying.

In Gaza, Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said: "This is a sin and it doesn't serve the Palestinian people. The Israeli occupation uses every new normalization to increase its aggression against the Palestinian people and increase its settlement expansion."

Moroccan King Mohammmed told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in a phone call on Thursday that Rabat stands by a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a royal court statement quoted by Al Jazeera.

The king added negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians are the only way to reach a final, lasting and comprehensive solution to the conflict.

Bahrain, Egypt, UAE welcome

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi was the first Arab leader to praise the agreement, according to the Israeli newspaper Hamodia: "I followed with great interest the important development regarding the agreement between Morocco and Israel to normalize relations between them with American mediation. If this step bears fruit, it would create further stability and cooperation in our region," al-Sissi said.

Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa praised the Moroccan decision to establish diplomatic relations and official connections with Israel, state news agency BNA reported on Thursday. The statement also welcomed U.S. recognition of Morocco's sovereignty over the Western Sahara region.

The United Arab Emirates welcomed Morocco's decision to resume diplomatic relations and communications with Israel, crown prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan wrote on Twitter. "This step, a sovereign move, contributes to strengthening our common quest for stability, prosperity, and just and lasting peace in the region."

Western Sahara

Senator Jim Inhofe, the Republican chairman of the U.S. Senate's Armed Services Committee, denounced Trump's "shocking and deeply disappointing" decision to recognize Morocco's sovereignty over Western Sahara. Inhofe said people living in the area should vote in a referendum to decide their future.

"The president has been poorly advised by his team. He could have made this deal without trading the rights of a voiceless people," Inhofe was quoted by Reuters as saying.

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Abdus-Sattar Ghazali Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
 
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