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Morocco, Israel agree to normalize relations

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President Donald Trump on Thursday announced that Morocco and Israel have agreed to normalize relations, making Morocco the fourth Arab nation in four months to recognize Israel. Part of this deal will include the United States recognizing Morocco’s claims over the disputed Western Sahara region, according to reports.

Trump said that the two countries would establish normal diplomatic ties and other relations, which will see the immediate reopening of liaison offices in Tel Aviv and Rabat, followed by the eventual opening of embassies. Additionally, there would be joint overflight rights for airlines, U.S. officials said.

“Another HISTORIC breakthrough today!” he tweeted late Thursday morning. “Our two GREAT friends Israel and the Kingdom of Morocco have agreed to full diplomatic relations – a massive breakthrough for peace in the Middle East!”

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1337067073051238400

A major caveat of this deal will see the U.S. recognize Morocco’s controversial territorial claims over the disputed Western Sahara region, which the kingdom administers partially. Up until this point, top global powers have, for the most part, tried to stay out of the dispute.

The decades-long dispute dates back to the messy Spanish decolonization of northwestern Africa, resulting in violence breaking out in the 1970s over control of the region. Multiple parties still contentiously dispute who controls Western Sahara. The main competitor to Morocco’s claim is the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), which seeks an independent Western Sahara and is mostly backed by neighboring Algeria and Mauritania. Mauritania, it should be noted, also occupies a southern portion of the region.

This dispute has caused diplomatic troubles for Morocco, complicating its relations with its North and West African neighbors and with the 55-member African Union. The United Nations recognizes neither Morocco’s nor the SADR’s sovereignty over the region.

In two separate tweets on Thursday, Trump firmly emphasized that the U.S. is ready and willing to recognize these disputed claims, citing that Morocco recognized the U.S. as an independent nation in 1777, one year after the U.S. declared its independence from Britain.

“Today, I signed a proclamation recognizing Moroccan sovereignty over the Western Sahara,” Trump posted to Twitter. “Morocco’s serious, credible, and realistic autonomy proposal is the ONLY basis for a just and lasting solution for enduring peace and prosperity!”

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1337067019385057290

“Morocco recognized the United States in 1777,” he wrote in another tweet one minute later. “It is thus fitting we recognize their sovereignty over the Western Sahara.”

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1337067127455539201

In September, the U.S. successfully brokered a peace deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and then a separate one with Bahrain, known as the Abraham Accords. In the months since the U.S. spearheaded similar negotiations that have resulted in Sudan agreeing to establish normal relations with the Jewish State. These historic milestones have all largely been seen as a monumental foreign policy victory for Trump.

The first Arab countries to recognize Israel were Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994, both under different circumstances.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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Columbia alumni are also anti-Israel, threaten to withhold $77 million in donations

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2,000 people claiming to be Columbia University alumni have signed a letter pledging to “withhold all financial, programmatic, and academic support” from the institution until it meets the demands of anti-Israel protesters. The result is $77 million in donations is at risk.

National Review reports that the letter, addressed to Columbia president Minouche Shafik and the school’s trustees, expresses support for the protesters who oppose the university’s “continued collaboration with the Israeli government’s ongoing genocidal violence against Palestinians.”

“The movement for Palestinian liberation, on campus and globally, is often led by Jewish people of many nations,” the letter says. “Weaponizing claims about antisemitism to silence student speech is based on faulty logic, harms Jewish students, and distracts from true antisemitism, including the attempts by a craven American right to tokenize, exploit, and appropriate Jewish trauma and resilience.”

There does not appear to be a process to verify that people who sign the letters are, in fact, Columbia alumni. It allows people to sign anonymously.

The letter condemns the “administration’s brutal repression of student speech and assembly,” specifically president Shafik’s decision to call in the New York Police Department Strategic Response Group on protesters. Hundreds of anti-Israel protesters were arrested at Columbia and at the City College of New York on April 30, including some who barricaded themselves inside a campus admissions building.

Signatories of the letter are pledging to withhold donations until the university meets 13 demands, including: that it divests from companies that “fund or profit from Israeli apartheid, genocide, and occupation of Palestine”; calls for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war; removes Shafik as president; bans the NYPD from campus; and drops charges against student activists, reverses disciplinary measures against them, and finances the healthcare for students who were “brutalized” by the police.

The website where the letter is shared claims that the signatories have previously provided over $67 million in financial contributions to Columbia, and that over $77 million in donations are now at risk.

The letter also claims that the university “failed to hold accountable the former Israeli soldiers who carried out a chemical attack on protesting students in January 2024.” That seems to be a reference to an incident involving anti-Israel protesters who told the student-run Columbia Spectator that during a demonstration earlier this year they were sprayed with “skunk,” a chemical developed by the Israeli Defense Forces.

While this letter is from supporters of the anti-Israel protesters, Columbia has also received pushback from opponents who say the school is allowing protesters to break the law, disrupt the educational environment, and harass Jewish students, adds National Review.

On Monday, 13 federal judges sent a letter to Columbia leaders saying they will no longer hire the school’s students as clerks due to their behavior and the school’s mismanagement of anti-Israel protests, writing that “Columbia has disqualified itself from educating the future leaders of our country.”

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, a Columbia alumnus, said in April that he would withhold donations from the university due to the anti-Israel protests.

“I am deeply saddened at the virulent hate that continues to grow on campus and throughout our country,” Kraft said in a statement. “I am no longer confident that Columbia can protect its students and staff and I am not comfortable supporting the university until corrective action is taken.”

 

 

 

 

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