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In First Official Step, Morocco Opens Israel Office

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With little fanfare and no formal ceremony, Morocco has opened a liaison office in Tel Aviv.

The office, which falls short of full diplomatic representation, was opened nearly two weeks ago in Tel Aviv.

But there had been no formal announcement, in accordance with Morocco’s request that “at least in the beginning, everything remain low-profile,” an Israeli official told reporters.

The liaison office, focused mostly on economic issues, is headed by Talal Gofrani and employs two other Moroccan employees.

Concurrent with the opening of the office in Tel Aviv, Morocco also opened a liaison office in the Gaza Strip. That office also does not have full diplomatic status.

Morocco, which established ties with Israel in September, said it does not want to establish full diplomatic relations until there is significant progress in Israel’s talks with the Palestinians and the Syrians.

An Israeli liaison bureau opened in Rabat in October.

News reports said the office in Tel Aviv may soon issue visas to Israelis wishing to visit Morocco. Until now they have usually obtained the permits at Moroccan embassies in Europe.

Morocco and Israel have long had de facto relations, with King Hassan II serving as an intermediary in Israel’s peace efforts over the years.

For some time, Morocco has encouraged tourism and even trade with Israel, where there are 600,000 Israelis who claim Moroccan descent.

After Morocco’s move to open relations last year, Tunisia agreed to establish an interest section in the Belgian Embassy in Tel Aviv, but has not yet done so.

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