Wide Angle

2023 marks most productive year for Israel-Morocco relations since Abraham Accords

According to its annual report on countries that signed the Abraham Accords with Israel, the Abraham Accords Peace Institute said that 2023 was the most productive year for Israel-Morocco relations since resumption of relations.

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2023 was the most productive year for Israel-Morocco relations since the signing of the Trilateral Agreement on the resumption of relations, the Abraham Accords Peace Institute said in its annual report on countries that signed the Abraham Accords with Israel.

Bilateral trade between Morocco and Israel almost doubled throughout 2023, with tourism boosted by the introduction of new flight routes, according to the report. During the same year, the two countries signed deals in various fields, including energy, food, water, education, and technology.

«Numerous Israeli ministers made official visits to Morocco to meet with counterparts, while His Excellency Andre Azoulay, Senior Advisor to HM King Mohammed VI, visited Israel and received the Presidential Medal of Distinction from President Isaac Herzog», the institute recalls.

The most significant event that marked the rapprochement between Israel and Morocco was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's announcement formally recognizing Moroccan sovereignty over the Western Sahara.

«Israel's recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara follows similar decisions by the U.S. and other like-minded countries», the report signals.

«This decision aligns with Israel's national security interests, as the Polisario Front, which is engaged in an armed conflict with Morocco over the territory, is armed and funded by Iran and Hezbollah», it further explains.

Trade booming, tourism sees mixed results

Regarding trade, the report said that it doubled in 2023 compared to 2022, reaching 116 million US dollars. «This makes the trade between Morocco and Israel the fastest growing trade relationship among the Abraham Accords countries», the report's authors commented. Despite a slowdown in the last quarter of 2023, trade numbers remain above their 2022 levels.

These numbers demonstrate the resilience of trade ties between the countries. The quickly growing trade figures do not include cyber, software, and defense deals, all of which were substantial in 2023. These figures also exclude financial or industrial investments.

As for tourism, the institute said that according to Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics, about 3,200 Moroccan citizens visited Israel in 2023, compared to about 2,900 in 2022, representing a 10.3% increase. According to the Moroccan Ministry of Tourism, 50,548 Israelis visited Morocco in 2023, compared to 74,648 in 2022, a decrease of 32%.

According to the Israel Airports Authority, 116,031 passengers passed through Ben Gurion International Airport in 2023 on flights between Israel and Morocco, compared to 151,503 in 2022, a decrease of 23.4%.

The institute emphasized that diplomatic relations between the Abraham Accords countries and Israel have remained «stable» despite the ongoing war between Hamas and Israel. «Trade decreased by only 4%, compared to an 18% decrease in Israel's total trade», they added.

However, the institute continued, the war has had a strong negative impact on regional public opinion towards Israel, noting that public anger has hindered progress towards normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

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