Israeli carrier launches direct flight to Morocco

An Israeli worker in full hazmat suit sprays disinfectant on the stairs of an Israir airplane at Ben Gurion airport near Israel's Tel Aviv, in this file picture taken on June 14, 2020, amid the Covid-19 pandemic AFP/File

Jerusalem – Israeli carrier Israir launched the first direct commercial flight between the Jewish state and Morocco on Sunday since the countries normalised diplomatic relations in a US-brokered deal last year.

About 100 passengers were on the flight that departed from Tel Aviv to Marrakesh, Israir spokeswoman Tali Leibovitz told AFP, adding that two to three flights per week were planned on the route.

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said last week that he would visit Morocco shortly after the Israir service was launched.

Morocco was one of four regional states to normalise ties with Israel in 2020, along with Bahrain, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates.

The move came as the administration of former US president Donald Trump recognised Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara, a disputed and divided former Spanish colony.

Morocco is home to North Africa’s largest Jewish community, which numbers around 3,000. Some 700,000 Jews of Moroccan origin live in Israel.

Rabat had a liaison office in Tel Aviv but relations came to a halt during the 2000-2005 second Palestinian intifada, or uprising.

The normalisation deals between Arab states and Israel have been deemed a “betrayal” by the Palestinians, who believe the process should only follow a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.



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