Tel Aviv said the memorandum of understanding signed during Defence Minister Gantz’s visit will establish formal cooperation on “operational planning, purchases, research development, and training”.

Morocco was one of four Arab countries to normalise relations with Israel last year under US-engineered accords.
Morocco was one of four Arab countries to normalise relations with Israel last year under US-engineered accords. (Reuters)

Morocco and Israel have signed a defence memorandum of understanding (MoU), opening the way for possible military sales and cooperation after the countries upgraded diplomatic ties last year.

Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz signed the document along with Abdellatif Loudiyi, Morocco's defence administration minister, in Rabat on Wednesday.

"This is very significant, and it will allow us to exchange ideas, enter into joint projects and enable Israeli exports (to Morocco)," Gantz said.

Israel's Defence Ministry said the Morocco MoU will establish "formal cooperation" on "operational planning, purchases, research development, and training".

A source briefed on the classified MoU said it does not stipulate specific defence deals, but rather provides a legal and regulatory framework for such agreements in the future.

In a statement, the Israeli defence spokesperson said the MoU would enable the two countries "to enjoy increased cooperation in the fields of intelligence, industrial collaboration, military training and more".

There was no immediate comment from Morocco on the document.

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Normalising relations

Morocco was one of four Arab countries – along with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan – to normalise relations with Israel last year under US-engineered accords.

Departing for Rabat on Tuesday, Gantz told reporters he was embarking on "the first formal visit" by an Israeli defence minister to Morocco – implicit acknowledgement of discreet relations dating back decades.

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid travelled to Morocco in August for the first visit by Israel's top diplomat to that country since 2003.

Bezhalel Machlis, CEO and president of Israeli defence contractor Elbit Systems Ltd, told Reuters on Tuesday that his company saw Morocco as a potential market.

READ MORE: Israel-Morocco agreement follows a history of clandestine cooperation

Source: Reuters