Ayelet Shaked arrives in Morocco, in third official visit since normalization

RABAT, Morocco — Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked arrived Monday in Morocco for a string of meetings with officials, a diplomatic source said, as cooperation grows between the two countries after they mended ties.

Shaked was the third Israeli minister to visit the North African kingdom since the two countries reestablished ties in a 2020 deal mediated by former US president Donald Trump.

Her visit came as Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid agreed to dissolve their fraught governing coalition and trigger new elections.

Shaked, who will be away until Thursday, is due to meet her Moroccan counterpart Abdelouafi Laftit, Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita, Economy Minister Nadia Fettah and other top officials.

On Sunday, the Interior Ministry said Shaked hoped to set up channels for Moroccan workers to work in Israel’s construction and nursing sectors.

Morocco also announced at the beginning of the month that it was considering collaboration with Israel on personal data protection.

Illustrative: Defense Minister Benny Gantz, left, with Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita in Rabat, Morocco on November 24, 2021. The two countries have collaborated in various fields since normalizing relations in December 2020. (AP Photo/Mosa’ab Elshamy)

Morocco had cut relations with Israel in 2000, following the outbreak of the Second Intifada, but reestablished ties 20 years later in a deal that saw Washington recognize Rabat’s sovereignty over disputed Western Sahara.

Since then, a steady stream of Moroccan and Israeli officials have visited each other’s countries and signed a string of cooperation deals in various fields including defense, aviation, and culture.

Lapid has been quoted by Israeli media as saying that Morocco plans to open an embassy in Tel Aviv in the coming months. Morocco currently operates a liaison office in Tel Aviv, which was established in February 2021.

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