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Israel officially recognized Moroccan sovereignty over the disputed territory of Western Sahara this week, a move that further solidifies ties between the two nations nearly three years after they agreed to normalize relations, Al Jazeera reported.

Moroccan officials announced that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had expressed his country’s position on the matter in a letter addressed to King Mohammed VI.

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen later said the move “will strengthen relations between the countries” and advance regional stability.

Until the mid-1970s, Western Sahara was under Spanish colonial rule. Following a ceasefire agreement in 1991, Rabat asserted control over nearly 80 percent of Western Sahara, while the remaining portion was held by the Algerian-backed Polisario Front, Al-Monitor noted.

But Morocco’s control has received little international recognition, while the Polisario Front has demanded an independent state be established in the territory.

In 2020, then-US President Donald Trump recognized Morocco’s sovereignty in exchange for restoring ties with Israel. Morocco became the fourth country – after the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Sudan – to normalize ties with the country following a US-brokered deal that year.

Meanwhile, Moroccan officials said momentum is building in Morocco’s favor after the US and European countries have expressed support for Rabat’s autonomy plan for the territory.

They added, however, that Israel’s move will not affect Morocco’s stance in defending a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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