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Morocco Wants to Dramatically Increase Trade, Defense Ties with Israel

Aims to be Israel’s ‘gate’ to 2.5 billion global customers due to its many free trade agreements – Moroccan ambassador tells Jewish leaders in New York.
Omar Hilale, Morocco’s ambassador to the United Nations, speaking on a panel discussion at The Jerusalem Post New York Conference 2022, Sep. 12, 2022 (Photo: ALL ARAB NEWS)
Omar Hilale, Morocco’s ambassador to the United Nations, speaking on a panel discussion at The Jerusalem Post New York Conference 2022, Sep. 12, 2022 (Photo: ALL ARAB NEWS)

By Joel C. Rosenberg | September 15, 2022

Though the Kingdom of Morocco was the fourth of the four Arab countries to normalize relations with Israel in the fall of 2020, I’ve been very encouraged by how hard Moroccan officials are working to strengthen and deepen its ties with the Jewish State on multiple levels.

In February, the two countries indicated that they want to dramatically expand bilateral trade, from about $131 million annually today to more than $500 million annually.

In June, Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita invited me to visit Rabat, the kingdom’s capital, to meet with him and other senior government and religious leaders. I brought an Israeli film crew to capture interviews and other material for “The Rosenberg Report,” my new prime time show on TBN, the world’s most-watched Christian TV network. The show will debut on October 6. Later this Fall, I plan to devote an entire program to the exciting trends I’m seeing in Morocco.

In July, Lt.-General Aviv Kochavi – the chief of staff of the Israeli Defense Forces – made his first-ever visit to Rabat, the kingdom’s capital, to discuss how to dramatically strengthen defense ties.

This week, Belkhir El Farouk, a top general in the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces, is in Israel to meet with Kochavi and attend a multi-national defense conference hosted by Israel.

If that were not enough, Omar Hilale, Morocco’s ambassador to the United Nations, spoke to Jewish leaders in Manhattan on Monday.

“THE OPPORTUNITIES ARE HUGE” TO EXPAND TRADE AND ECONOMIC GROWTH

“I prefer the word of ‘continuum’ than ‘reconnection,’” the ambassador said, speaking of Moroccan King Mohammed VI’s decision in December 2020 to re-establish relations with Israel after a 20 year break in relations that came during the Second Intifada in 2000.

“Continuum is more than reconnection – and, in my point of view, more than normalization – because it’s continuum of 3,000 years of history of the existence of Jewish people in Morocco,” he said.

“It’s also a continuum of the links that have been existing between Morocco and Israel, thanks to the Moroccan Jewish community in Israel, which now is reaching more than 900,000 people.”

“But I should recognize that the Abraham Accords create real dynamics between Morocco and Israel,” Amb. Hilale was quick to add.

“And we witness now several exchanges of visits between ministers of defense, ministers of trade, ministers of education, ministers of interior, the chief of the Israeli Army, and, by the way, the Inspector General of the Moroccan armies is visiting Israel [this week] – that’s the first time that is happening.”

What’s more, the ambassador added with enthusiasm, the Abraham Accords are also “triggering” a significant increase in trade between Morocco and Israel and the possibility of much more.

“The opportunities are huge” to expand trade and economic growth in both countries, Hilale said. “Now it just depends on investors coming from Israel and also on the economic capacity of exports by Morocco.”

“We believe that this agreement, or this accord, is giving to the Israeli economy and investors and traders access to more than 2.5 billion citizens in the world, thanks to the free trade agreements that Morocco has signed with several countries. It means that Morocco will be the gate of Israel to so many other countries. And for us it’s a very important opportunity, and also a chance to create prosperity and deepen the relationship between the two countries.”

I was honored to help the Post invite and organize the panel discussion, that also included Shaikh Abdulla bin Rashid AlKhalifa, Bahrain’s ambassador to the United States, and Gilad Erdan, Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations.

I was also scheduled to co-moderate the panel with Yaakov Katz, the Post’s editor-in-chief.

Unfortunately, at the last moment I was unable to travel to the United States.

Yaakov did a great job with the panel, which was the first time that Arab leaders have ever spoken at the Post’s annual conference in New York.

The ambassadors received standing ovations from the audience both at the beginning and the end of the presentation.

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