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Israel Opens Door to Moroccan Workers

Morocco confirmed on December 10, 2020 it would resume diplomatic relations with Israel "with minimal delay" and lauded as "historic" a decision by Washington to recognize Moroccan sovereignty over the disputed Western Sahara region.

Israel reached a deal with Rabat on Tuesday to bring Moroccan construction and healthcare workers to the Jewish state, Israeli Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked's office said as she visited the kingdom.

Israeli Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked marked the deal with a statement saying "The goal is within a month to begin a pilot of bringing nursing care workers and construction laborers from Morocco to Israel."

She signed the accord during a meeting with Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita, the statement added.

Israel and Morocco re-established diplomatic ties in December 2020 under a deal mediated by the administration of former US president Donald Trump that also saw Washington recognize Moroccan sovereignty over the disputed Western Sahara.

Morocco considers the vast, resource-rich desert region as an integral part of its territory, but the Algerian-backed Polisario movement has been seeking independence there since Spanish colonial forces withdrew in 1975.

Shaked on Tuesday "publicly expressed for the first time Israel's support of Morocco's sovereignty" over the disputed region, her office said.

Her visit comes as Morocco hosts the vast annual US-led African Lion military exercise, involving some 7,500 personnel from 10 countries including France and Britain.

For the first time, the exercise also includes Israeli military observers.

The North African kingdom's mending of relations with Israel re-ignited its long-standing rivalry with Algeria, which in August last year cut diplomatic ties with Rabat. Algiers cited "hostile acts" and Morocco's relations -- including on military and security issues -- with "the Zionist entity", referring to Israel.