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Will Israel recognize Morocco's sovereignty over Western Sahara?

Visiting Rabat officially for the first time, Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is considering recognizing the kingdom’s sovereignty over the disputed region.
Parliament Speaker Rachid Talbi Alami (R) shows Israel's Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana the parliament building in Rabat, Morocco, June 8, 2023.

On an official visit to Rabat, Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana called on Thursday on the government to recognize Morocco’s sovereignty over the Western Sahara, in what could indicate a possible shift in Israel’s policy on the issue. Experts, however, warn that the issue is complicated and it may backfire on Israeli wider interests. 

Morocco has laid claim to the Western Sahara since 1975, and a 1991 cease-fire agreement saw Rabat claim 80% of the contested region, with the rest being held by the Polisario Front, the Algeria-backed Western Sahara pro-independence movement. Algeria opposes its neighbor laying claim to it and has supported the region's independence from Morocco.

Ohana’s remarks, widely cited in the Moroccan press, came one day only after Reuters reported that the Israeli government was considering recognizing Morocco’s sovereignty over the disputed region of Western Sahara. 

“I understand the importance of the recognition of the Western Sahara. Israel should move toward that goal of recognizing the Moroccan Sahara just as our closest ally the US did as it signed the historic Abraham Accords,” said Ohana. “There are currently serious discussions between our governments on that matter, and I believe Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu will be announcing his decision in the near future.”

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