Morocco has agreed to begin normalizing relations with Israel, becoming the fourth Arab state this fall to do so, the White House announced on Thursday.
Morocco now follows Bahrain, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates in agreeing to set aside generations of hostilities toward the Jewish state as part of a campaign to stabilize the Middle East and North Africa — and, in doing so, is cementing a major foreign goal for President Trump as he nears the end of his administration.
“We finally had a breakthrough four months ago, and we’re continuing to push the region forward,” Jared Kushner, a senior adviser to Mr. Trump, told reporters.
“Now we have peace sprouting in the Middle East,” Mr. Kushner said. “The fruits of these efforts have become very apparent, but we also believe there is a lot more fruit to come.”
Under the agreement, Morocco will restore full diplomatic relations and formalize economic ties with Israel, Mr. Kushner said, as well as allow planes over its air space and direct commercial flights from Tel Aviv.
He said more than one million Israelis are descended from people who originally lived in Morocco.
The White House also announced that the United States would recognize the disputed Western Sahara territory as a sovereign part of Morocco. Last month, the leader of a pro-independence group in Western Sahara declared war on Morocco, shattering a three-decade-long cease-fire and threatening a full-blown military conflict in the disputed desert territory in northwest Africa.
“This will strengthen America’s relationship” with the Moroccan kingdom, Mr. Kushner said.
This could be one of the final diplomatic deals negotiated by the current administration before Jan. 20, when President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. takes office. And while Mr. Biden has vowed to reverse some of Mr. Trump’s contentious foreign policy moves, he has also indicated that he will continue to uphold the so-called Abraham Accords, which normalized relations between Israel and two Arab states, the United Emirates and Bahrain. In August, Mr. Biden praised the deal as a “historic step to bridge the deep divides of the Middle East.”
Former officials have previously suggested that if Arab states like Oman and Saudi Arabia move to normalize ties with Israel, a Biden administration might urge them to insist on Israeli concessions to the Palestinians.
The Trump administration had hoped Saudi Arabia would join the push for normalizing relations with Israel. Mr. Kushner said “that notion was unthinkable” before Mr. Trump took office in 2016.
So far, however, Saudi Arabia has insisted that more progress was needed on peace between Israel and the Palestinians.