(Photo credit: AP Photo/Oded Balilty, File)
Hebrew media outlet i24NEWS has reported that Israel’s Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Aviv Kohavi will visit Morocco on 18 July, making it the first visit of an Israeli official to the Arab state.
On 15 July, Kohavi was reported to be traveling to Morocco. However, the specific destination was barred from news publications by the military censor.
The information was only disclosed on the morning of 16 July by several journalists via Twitter.
Hebrew sources: "Israel’s army chief Aviv Kochavi is expected to visit Morocco next week on a first-ever official trip to a North African country by IDF chief."
It comes just a day after US President Joe Biden headed to Saudi Arabia to discuss the 'Israel'-Suadi Arabia relations. pic.twitter.com/QfVeCfvkAT
— Quds News Network (@QudsNen) July 16, 2022
Bilateral relations between Rabat and Tel Aviv have improved over recent months, due to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Israel’s defense minister Benny Gantz and his Moroccan counterpart, in what was the first agreement signed between the two nations.
The agreement essentially formalized their defense ties, enabling smoother cooperation between their defense establishments, and making it easier for Israel to share intelligence and sell arms to the north African kingdom.
Gantz announced on 7 July that Israeli arms sales have increased since the signing of the Abraham Accords, which saw Tel Aviv set up diplomatic ties with the UAE, Bahrain, and Morocco.
Israel has signed more than $3 billion in arms agreements with regional countries since the signing of the controversial agreements.
Representatives of Israel’s Defense Ministry have held about 150 meetings with “their counterparts in regional countries, excluding Egypt and Jordan,” Hebrew media quoted Gantz as saying.
However, the defense minister failed to specifically name other regional states that had participated in security meetings or had signed arms deals with Tel Aviv.
Last month, Israel participated for the first time in the African Lion 2022 military drill program, which began on 6 June and ended on 30 June.
The military drill took place in the Tantan region of southern Morocco, approximately 700 kilometers from the country’s capital, Rabat.
The African Lion drills are annual military exercises sponsored by the US military’s Africa Command (AFRICOM), which take place across several different African countries.
According to media reports, over 7,000 soldiers from the militaries of several countries, including Brazil, France, the US, and the UK, as well as NATO observers, were participating in this year’s drills.
The exercises include land, air, and sea drills, as well as exercises relating to chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear decontamination.
Israel and Morocco normalized ties in December 2020, as part of the so-called Abraham Accords, which also saw a number of Arab states normalize relations with Tel Aviv, including the UAE and Bahrain.
In exchange, the US president at the time, Donald Trump, accepted the sovereignty of Morocco over the disputed Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony which falls under Morocco’s “autonomy project.”