On December 10, 2020, following on the heels of the Abraham Accords, Jerusalem and Rabat concluded an agreement to establish full diplomatic relations, reviving and expanding the low-level ties that emerged during the 1990s and were broken off during the second intifada. Simultaneously, the Moroccan government has invested in establishing Jewish museums—inaugurating two this year—and preserving historical Jewish sites. Pro-Palestinian sentiment nonetheless remains high in the country, and King Mohammed VI sees himself as the protector of the Palestinian people. Sam Millner, Morr Link, and Ofir Winter explain, and offer some suggestions to Israeli diplomats:
Attitudes toward Judaism are rooted in a broader agenda cultivated by King Mohammed VI to promote a national identity characterized by religious, cultural, and ethnic pluralism, as documented by the country’s 2011 constitution, which stipulates that Moroccan unity “is forged by the convergence of its Arab-Islamist, Berber [Amazigh], and Saharan-Hassanic components, nourished and enriched by its African, Andalusian, Hebraic, and Mediterranean influences.”
The positive momentum in Israel-Morocco relations cannot be taken for granted in light of the challenges that these relations face, chief among them Morocco’s position toward the Palestinians.
Israel should capitalize on the overlapping aspects of its history with Morocco to develop bilateral relations further, especially in civilian ties: in sports, academia, arts, and culture, where people-to-people connections are paramount. This way, the countries’ shared heritage and cultural affinity could serve as a lever for enhancing dialogue and cooperation.
A final recommendation stems from a broader understanding of the Abraham Accords and the values they embody. Hardline religious discourse encumbers the ability to promote dialogue and construct mutually respectful and tolerant narratives. Israeli representatives are therefore encouraged to promote ways to engage with Moroccan discourse on religious and cultural pluralism, and consider concrete policies and activities that could advance these ideas, such as promoting dialogue and coexistence between Jews and Muslims in Israel and beyond. Such policies could increase Israel’s ability to develop ties with Arab and Muslim countries—and benefit Israeli society as well.