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Israel relations

Israel, Morocco to upgrade ties and open embassies within several months: Israeli FM

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Israel and Morocco plan to upgrade their restored diplomatic relations and open embassies within several months, Israel’s foreign minister said during a visit to the North African kingdom on Thursday.

Morocco was one of four Arab countries - along with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Sudan - to move towards normalizing relations with Israel last year under US-engineered accords.

Those agreements also saw Washington recognize Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara, in a diplomatic boon for Rabat.

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“We are going to upgrade from liaison offices to embassies,” Yair Lapid told a news conference.

In similar comments to Israeli reporters accompanying him on a two-day trip that began on Wednesday, Lapid was quoted as saying that he had agreed with his Moroccan counterpart Nasser Bourita that the embassies would open in two months’ time.

There was no immediate confirmation of Lapid’s remarks by Morocco.

Lapid’s visit was the first by an Israeli foreign minister to Morocco since 2003, after the two countries agreed in December to resume diplomatic relations under a US-brokered deal.

Earlier on Thursday, Lapid inaugurated Israel’s liaison office in Rabat and visited a synagogue in Casablanca.

The deals between Israel and the four Arab states angered Palestinians, who have long relied on Arab support in their quest for statehood in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza. Until last year, only two Arab states - Egypt and Jordan - had forged full ties with Israel.

Morocco cooled mid-level relations with Israel in 2000 in solidarity with the Palestinians, who launched an uprising that year.