Western Sahara has been subject of dispute between Morocco, Algeria-backed Polisario Front for more than four decades
Israel said Monday it will take its final decision on recognizing Morocco’s sovereignty over the Western Sahara region during the upcoming Negev Forum.
The Negev Forum is made up of the foreign ministers of Israel, Egypt, Morocco, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and the US.
The forum aims to enhance cooperation between the countries that signed US-sponsored normalization agreements with Israel.
It was first held in March 2022 in Negev in southern Israel. The second edition of the forum was scheduled to be held in Morocco in March 2023, but Rabat postponed the event, citing Israel’s actions against Palestinians.
“We are right now working in regards to this issue and our plan is to have our final decision in the Negev Forum,” Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen told reporters on Monday.
The Israeli minister expected that the Negev Forum will be held in Morocco in September or October this year, the Israeli public broadcaster KAN reported.
There was no confirmation yet from the Moroccan authorities.
The Western Sahara has been the subject of a dispute between Morocco and the Algeria-backed Polisario Front for more than four decades.
Rabat insists on its right to the Western Sahara region, but has proposed a self-rule system under Moroccan sovereignty. The pro-independence Polisario Front, for its part, demands that a popular referendum be held in Western Sahara to decide the region’s political fate — a proposal backed by Algeria.
The Israeli statements on the Western Sahara region are seen as a means of pressure on Rabat to host the delayed event.
Israel and Morocco resumed their diplomatic relations in December 2020 after they were suspended in 2000 following the outbreak of the second Palestinian Intifada.
The North African nation became the fourth Arab country to normalize ties with Israel in 2020 after the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan.