First Israelis fly direct to Marrakesh

Flights are a product of Abraham Accords


This picture taken on March 7, 2021 shows an Israeli El Al Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner aircraft on the tarmac while Turkish MNG Airlines Airbus A300 cargo plane lands at Israel's Ben-Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv. - Israel took another step towards post-pandemic normalcy on March 7, opening restaurants, bars and cafes to vaccinated "green pass" holders, with about 40 percent of the population fully inoculated against the coronavirus. (Photo by JACK GUEZ / AFP) (Photo by JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

More than 100 excited Israeli passengers have flown from Tel Aviv to Marrakesh in the first direct flights between Israel and Morocco since the two countries signed a deal six months ago to normalise diplomatic ties.

Up to three flights a week are planned and Israel’s foreign minister, Yair Lapid, will visit Morocco very soon, it has been announced. He said that after his trip, Moroccan foreign minister Nasser Bourita would come to Israel to open diplomatic offices.

The airport departure lounges were decorated with Moroccan carpets and traditional vases to mark the first flight. Return flights are expected to cost around $500, officials said.

Until 2000, Morocco had a liaison office in Tel Aviv, but Palestinian uprisings between 2000 and 2005 meant a break in diplomatic ties. At one point Israelis were able to travel to Morocco but only in organised and escorted groups, which made it difficult for Israelis of Moroccan origin — reportedly 700,000 Israelis in that category — to visit their families. Morocco is one of the few Arab countries with a sizeable Jewish population, said to be still around 3,000.

Ishay Zacks, the captain of the inaugural direct flight, told Israel Army Radio on Sunday morning: “There is great excitement from everyone involved in this historic event. We are busy studying the destination, administrative co-ordination, preparing the plane”.

Morocco was one of four regional states to normalise ties with Israel in 2020, along with Bahrain, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates.




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