Nasser Bourita: Morocco’s Official Recognition of Israel is not New
In an interview with RFI, Nasser Bourita lifts the fog over many misconceptions about Morocco's recognition of Israel
First of all, in what context does the decision of the United States of America to recognize Morocco’s sovereignty over the Sahara occur?
Nasser Bourita: It crowns a process that began more than two and a half years ago, since the visit of President Jared Kushner’s advisor to Morocco in May 2018 and his meeting with His Majesty King Mohammed VI. A process was triggered through permanent contacts, either direct, or through emissaries and delegations, which made it possible to present arguments and formulations, until the outcome which was yesterday through the presidential decree.
What do you say to those who believe that this American recognition was made in exchange for the restoration of relations between Morocco and Israel?
Moroccan foreign policy has never been in the bargain, has never been in the deal. Morocco has developed relations with Israel for years, official recognition is not new, it dates from the 1990s. Morocco opened a liaison office in 1994 in Tel Aviv, and it still exists. It is closed, but it is there, there is a building, it is called the Morocco liaison office with Israel, and the same thing is in Rabat.
The contacts were permanent, it is a complete resumption of diplomatic relations, it is a reactivation of the mechanisms that existed and which have been used for years, often at the request of the two protagonists as a tool of peace and reconciliation.
Morocco is known, recognized as an important player in the Middle East file, it is not because Morocco has borders with Israel, or because Morocco has a direct interest in the Middle East, it is because Morocco has this particularity which makes it an intermediary, a credible “facilitator” with all the protagonists and the reactivation of all these mechanisms serves precisely that cause.
The Palestinian cause is sacred among Moroccans, do you fear a hostile reaction from public opinion?
Of course, the Palestinian cause is important for His Majesty King Mohammed VI, for the Moroccan government and for the Moroccan people and His Majesty reminded the President of Israel and the President of Palestine on Friday, in almost the same terms. His Majesty the King recalled three fundamentals of this position: commitment to a solution based on two States, a Palestinian State and an Israeli State; direct negotiation between Palestinians and Israelis as the only process to achieving lasting peace; and three, as chairman of the Jerusalem committee under the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Morocco, His Majesty the King, is committed to the preservation of the Islamic cachet of the holy city and the opening of the city of Jerusalem to all practitioners of the three monotheistic religions.
The Moroccan people understand that Morocco’s attachment to the defense of its territorial integrity, that this enormous breakthrough in the Moroccan Sahara issue, was not made to the detriment, but will also serve the Palestinian cause through the reactivation of these mechanisms.
From January 20, Joe Biden will be the new president of the United States, could his administration reconsider this recognition of full Moroccan sovereignty in the Sahara?
The Moroccan-American relationship does not depend on administrations, it is a relationship rooted in history and it is a relationship anchored on solid levers. On the other hand, let’s not forget that the successive Democratic and American administrations have always supported the autonomy proposed by Morocco. They called it serious, credible and realistic. So, Morocco will work with the new administration, with the same spirit of partnership and with the same lever in favor of peace and stability.