In September, Belkhir el-Farouk, the commander of the Moroccan armed forces, came to Israel to take part in an international conference of senior military leaders, hosted by the IDF. Just a few months beforehand, Farouk had met with his Israeli counterpart in Morocco. These meetings are just two signs among many of increasing closeness between Jerusalem and Rabat in the wake of the renewal of diplomatic relations following the signing of the Abraham Accords. Eran Lerman explains the reasons for this alignment, and its historical backdrop:
Following the Oslo Accords (1993) and the [Israeli] peace treaty with Jordan (1994), Morocco moved to establish reciprocal diplomatic legations [with the Jewish state, although not at the level of embassies]. A steady flow of visits by Israelis—many of them of Moroccan origin—and growing trade were added to the intelligence sharing and military cooperation. Even after formal relations were severed again due to the outbreak of Palestinian violence in the autumn of 2000, tens of thousands of Israelis continued to visit every year, and military cooperation, including arms supplies, continued.
Beyond that, the new Moroccan constitution of 2011 references the Jewish component of Moroccan cultural identity. . . . The Jewish Museum in Casablanca is the only one of its kind in the Arab world. Cultural exchanges and participation in sports events were already taking place before the Abraham Accords’ breakthrough.
Still, it is the dynamic development of security cooperation, ever since the formal establishment of relations, which has set the agenda. The steps already taken, and set to expand further, are unprecedented in scope and significance and, in some respects, exceed even the parallel progress in Israeli relations with the UAE and Bahrain. Both countries are concerned about Iran’s ambitions in the region: Morocco cut off diplomatic ties with Tehran in 2018 due to the involvement of Iranian government agents in supporting the Polisario Front.
Originally backed by the USSR, and now by Algeria and Iran, the Polisario Front has been conducting a guerrilla campaign against the Moroccan government for the independence of Western Sahara, a disputed territory Rabat claims as its own. This conflict, Lerman explains, places Morocco and Israel on one side, and Iran and an increasingly anti-Israel Algeria on the other.