Arabic News

Israel-Arab summit in Western Sahara? Lapid to visit Morocco for Abraham Accords anniversary

Israel Prime Minister Yair Lapid is expected in Morocco in the coming weeks ahead of the second-anniversary of a normalisation agreement between the two countries, reported Israel Hayom newspaper.

The Israeli newspaper said Lapid will visit Rabat to arrange a summit of all signatories of the so-called Abraham Accords.

In 2020, UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco signed normalisation agreements with Israel, under the auspices of the US, and held a high-profile security meeting in the Negev.

Another summit is expected and if it takes place it “will be as political as much as possible”, Israeli media reported.

Israeli officials are reportedly pushing for the summit to take place before the upcoming Knesset elections in November.

Sources in Morocco’s foreign ministry have refused to comment on Lapid’s expected visit but during the Negev summit in March, Morocco’s Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita said he hoped for the next meeting to take place on its soil.

“I hope that we meet in another Sahara next time but with the same spirit,” said Bourita, as he addressed his Arab and Israeli counterparts at the summit.

The Moroccan diplomat was apparently referring to Western Sahara, a disputed territory which Rabat and the Polisario Front – an armed separatist movement – both claim sovereignty over.

The UN formally recognises neither’s sovereignty over the territory, although some Western nations have backed Rabat.

In late 2020, Washington recognised Rabat’s sovereignty over the disputed territory in exchange for Moroccan normalisation with Israel. The deal has been condemned by Sahrawis and Arabs alike.

Morocco heralded the deal as a major win for the kingdom, with Western Sahara a primary national issue.

Despite playing a vital role in convincing Rabat to publicly establish ties with Israel, the Israeli state remained silent on the dispute over the territory until after Bourita’s statement.

A day after Bourita’s statement, Lapid for the first time voiced Israel’s endorsement of Morocco’s sovereignty over the territory. Israeli ministers have also reiterated the endorsement during their several visits to Rabat.

A Moroccan political expert, who requested anonymity, told that as host of the potential summit, Morocco will push the Western Sahara issue up the list of regional priorities.

“Hosting the summit in [Western] Sahara will be absolutly heralded as a win of Morocco’s first national cause by the state and its media which will probably demonise those who protest as traitors of our national cause. The same policy they did amid Abraham [Accords],” said the expert.