Lapid invites Moroccan foreign minister to Israel

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid has invited his Moroccan counterpart, Nasser Bourita, to visit Israel.

The written invitation was delivered Wednesday by Foreign Ministry Director-General Alon Ushpiz, who met with Bourati in Rabat during an ongoing visit to the North African kingdom.

Lapid stressed in his letter to Bourita that restoring ties between Israel and Morocco was a historical milestone.

Israel’s top diplomat also expressed his desire to make progress in bilateral cooperation in the fields of trade, technology, culture and tourism.

Lapid noted the opening of direct flights between the countries, expected to begin in a matter of weeks.

After a 20-year lull in diplomatic relations, Israel and Morocco renewed their ties late last year, amid a wave of normalization agreements with Arab countries.

Israeli National Security Adviser speaks to the press at the royal palace in Rabat, Morocco, December 22, 2020. (Judah Ari Gross/Times of Israel)

While Jerusalem and Rabat did not in the past have full relations — with diplomatic offices in each other’s capitals instead of embassies — they maintained close official ties until Morocco suspended them with the outbreak of the Second Intifada in 2000.

On Sunday morning, a Moroccan air force plane touched down in Israel’s Hatzor Air Base, reportedly to take part in a multinational Israeli Air Force exercise later this month.

The highly unusual landing of the Royal Moroccan Air Force C-130 cargo plane at the Hatzor Air Base near Ashdod was visible on public flight-tracking software, where it was quickly spotted by a number of amateur radar watchers, one of whom shared the information with The Times of Israel.

It appeared to be at least the second time the RMAF cargo plane landed in Israel, the first time being in 1996 when it touched down at Ben Gurion International Airport, according to aviation enthusiast David Weinrich, who tracked that flight at the time.

Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report. 

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