Morocco and the Jewish state signed a historic defense agreement on Wednesday during Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s visit to the friendly Arab state. The occasion marked the first visit by an Israeli defense minister to the North African state, which signed a normalization agreement with Jerusalem in December 2020.

Gantz signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Moroccan Defense Minister Abdellatif Loudiyi, paving the path to formalized bilateral defense relations between Israel and Morocco. The MOU, which is the first of its kind between Israel and an Arab state, includes close cooperation in a wide range of fields, such as industry, intelligence and military training. 

The Israeli defense minister stressed the importance of the historic defense agreement. 

“We have just signed a defense cooperation MOU with Morocco. It is a very significant development, which will enable us to work on joint projects and promote industrial cooperation,” he said. Looking into the future, Gantz said “relations between Israel and Morocco should be expanded and enhanced.”

In a released statement, the Israeli Defense Ministry elaborated on the specific parts of the defense agreement with Morocco. 

 “It will allow the beginning of official security cooperation between the two [countries]. The agreement includes formalizing intelligence-sharing and will allow for ties between their defense industries, defense procurement and joint exercises,” the Jewish state’s Defense Ministry said. 

The Israeli Defense Ministry further stressed that the bilateral agreements extend beyond security – they also include tourism and economic cooperation. 

“The agreement is a significant step in the deepening relations of Israel and the Kingdom of Morocco, which already benefit from increased economic cooperation, bilateral tourism, and warm people-to-people relations.”

Abdellatif Loudiyi, Morocco’s minister delegate for the Administration of National Defense and Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz sign a memorandum of understanding between the two countries at the Moroccan Defense Ministry in Rabat on November 24, 2021. (Photo: Ariel Hermoni/Israeli Ministry of Defense)

The defense agreement is expected to strengthen the security of both countries. Morocco is currently experiencing a diplomatic crisis with its neighbor Algeria, which supports the Polisario militia in Western Sahara against Morocco’s rule of the disputed territory. Morocco’s security challenges are vast and in the 1980s, the country built a 2700-kilometer wall across its border with Western Sahara to protect itself against terrorist infiltrations. 

In early November, the Moroccan French news site Le Desk reported that Morocco’s government was interested in acquiring Israel’s Iron Dome system, the world’s most advanced short-range anti-missile system that has been deployed extensively during battles with the Gaza-based terrorist organization Hamas. 

In another sign of close relations between Rabat and Jerusalem, Morocco’s military recently bought the Israeli Skylock Dome System, which will strengthen Morocco’s defensive capabilities in detecting and neutralizing hostile drones. 

FAR-Maroc Forum, which publishes articles on behalf the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces, explained the importance of the Skylock Dome System for Morocco’s defense. 

“This acquisition is part of the strengthening of the FAR’s capacities to protect the Kingdom’s critical and sensitive facilities, whether civilian or military. The Kingdom is intensifying its purchases of unmanned anti-aircraft systems or drones, which have become a threat in terms of their ability to recognize or attack with the difficulty of targeting them by conventional defense systems,” stated the FAR-Maroc Forum according to Morocco World News. 

Share this article