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World Morocco Jews 'already packing' for direct Israel flights

05:50  17 january  2021
05:50  17 january  2021 Source:   msn.com

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but Israeli tourists are allowed into the country, which is home to the largest Jewish community in Emirates and Bahrain with the introduction of direct flights between Israel and Morocco , Channel Though the countries have no formal relations, Morocco has hosted Israeli leaders, and Israelis are

The migration of Moroccan Jews to Israel occurred predominately after The Holocaust of European Jewry. The spotlight was turned to the North African; and particularly; Moroccan Jewish communities

Fanny Mergui has no doubt: Moroccan Jews "are already packing their suitcases" to board direct flights to Israel after the kingdom normalised ties with the Jewish state.

a large air plane on a runway at an airport: The flags of Morocco, Israel, and the United States flutter from the cockpit of an El Al airplane that landed in Morocco's capital Rabat for the first Israel-Morocco direct commercial flight on December 22, 2020 © - The flags of Morocco, Israel, and the United States flutter from the cockpit of an El Al airplane that landed in Morocco's capital Rabat for the first Israel-Morocco direct commercial flight on December 22, 2020

Morocco, home to North Africa's biggest Jewish community and the ancestral homeland of some 700,000 Israelis, is also hoping for an influx of Israeli tourists when the Covid-19 pandemic eases.

a group of people sitting at a table: A rabbi gives a sermon at the synagogue of Beth El in the Moroccan city of Casablanca on January 5, 2021 © FADEL SENNA A rabbi gives a sermon at the synagogue of Beth El in the Moroccan city of Casablanca on January 5, 2021

"I'm very happy" that the five-hour route will be served by direct flights, said Mergui, a Moroccan Jew who lives in Casablanca.

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Currently, there are no direct flights between Morocco and Israel . People travelling between the two countries usually make a stop at a connecting airport before reaching their destination. Israeli media recalled a 2018 interview with Morocco ’s Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita when he said that Morocco

There are no direct flights connecting Israel and Morocco . Last month, an Israeli official participated in a security conference in Marrakesh, in another sign of warming ties between Jerusalem and Rabat, which have long maintained informal but close intelligence ties. In March, Prime Minister Benjamin

"It's a true revolution."

The first direct commercial flight headed from Tel Aviv to Rabat in December to mark the three-way, US-brokered accord, under which Washington also recognised Moroccan sovereignty over disputed Western Sahara.

a group of people standing around a table: Moroccan Jews, pictured here praying at Casablanca's Em Habanim synagogue, are a community that dates back to antiquity © FADEL SENNA Moroccan Jews, pictured here praying at Casablanca's Em Habanim synagogue, are a community that dates back to antiquity

But tickets for regular commercial flights have yet to go on sale.

Bureaucratic delays have been compounded by the pandemic, which forced Morocco to mostly close its borders since March and impose a nationwide curfew in December.

Singer Suzanne Harroch, who had to wait 14 hours in transit at a Paris airport last time she visited Israel, called the Israeli-Moroccan rapprochement a "miracle".

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Moroccan Jews constitute an ancient community. Before the founding of Israel in 1948, there were about 250,000 to 350,000 Jews in the country

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"A lot of my family live there," said the 67-year-old. "I can't wait to see them more, and more often."

- Historical ties -

Israel had established liaison offices in Morocco in the 1990s during a short-lived diplomatic opening.

But they were closed again in the early 2000s as the second Palestinian intifada sparked a crushing Israeli response.

Yet relations quietly continued, with some $149 million in bilateral trade between 2014-2017, according to Moroccan news reports.

The re-opening of the liaison offices could make it much easier for Moroccans to obtain visas to visit Israel.

Morocco is also hoping to host more Israeli visitors.

Official statistics show that prior to the coronavirus pandemic, up to 70,000 Israeli tourists used to visit the country annually.

Most were of Moroccan ancestry and had kept close ties with their country of origin.

"The majority of Israelis of Moroccan origin are delighted," said Avraham Avizemer, who left Casablanca as a toddler and has lived for decades in Israel.

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Morocco ’s Jewish population was invigorated in 1492 when Spain expelled Muslims and Jews , most of whom fled to Morocco and brought with them the sophisticated urban culture of Andalucia. With the establishment of Israel and the encouragement of Zionists, Morocco ’s Jews left.

Home Points & Travel Israel Are Direct Flights Between Israel And Morocco The Next Domino To Fall? The Times of Israel reports that this may be an interim step before the country officially normalizes Morroco respects money and Jews have money which the spend when on vacations.

The fact their children and grandchildren can return "is huge", he said.

One Israeli already in Morocco is Elan.

The 34-year-old sat in the library of a Casablanca synagogue, where along with other Israeli Jews, mostly of Moroccan origin, he is receiving religious classes from a Moroccan rabbi.

"Direct flights would make travel easier," he said.

Morocco's Jewish community dates back to antiquity.

It was boosted in the 15th century by Jews expelled from Spain, and by the late 1940s reached about 250,000 people -- around a tenth of the population. But that figure tumbled as many Moroccan Jews headed to the newly founded state of Israel.

Today, about 3,000 Jews remain in Morocco.

- 'Happy, optimistic' -

Businessman George Sebat, 56, said he was "very happy and very optimistic" about Morocco's normalisation, citing positive impacts for tourism and the economy.

Prosper Bensimon, speaking after the evening prayer at Casablanca's Em Habanim synagogue, agreed.

"Four of my Muslim neighbours want to accompany me on my first visit from Morocco," he said.

But normalisation has not been universally welcomed by Moroccans.

Sion Assidon, an academic and prominent left-wing activist who backs the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel's treatment of Palestinians, is bitterly opposed.

"The latest fad is to justify the shame of normalisation by citing Morocco's historical links with Moroccan colonists," he wrote on Facebook.

Mergui, a former Zionist youth activist, said she had emigrated to Israel in the 1960s but returned to Morocco after the 1967 Six-Day War.

"I could not accept that the Jewish state, which I believed in, should occupy Palestinian land," she said.

She urged Israel to support "the creation of a Palestinian state".

But, she added, she welcomes "every step towards peace".

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Western Sahara: the separatists of the Polisario Front threaten Morocco with a "military escalation" .
The Saharawi movement launched four missiles in the direction of a border post under Moroccan control, on the border with Mauritania. American support for Morocco triggered the resumption of hostilities. © Provided by Franceinfo On January 23, 2021, the Polisario Front bombed the Guerguerat border post, held for three months by the Moroccan army, in the disputed territory of Western Sahara.

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