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Lapid. Photo: Amir Levy/Getty Images

RABAT, Morocco — Yair Lapid on Wednesday became the first Israeli foreign minister since 1999 to make an official bilateral visit to Morocco.

Why it matters: Lapid and Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita signed several agreements today to build on last December's agreement to reestablish diplomatic ties. Lapid will officially inaugurate the Israeli diplomatic mission in Rabat on Thursday.

  • Lapid will also travel to Casablanca for meetings with the Moroccan Jewish community and for an economic conference.

The backstory: In order to facilitate the Morocco-Israel deal, the Trump administration reversed decades of U.S. policy by recognizing Moroccan sovereignty over the disputed Western Sahara.

  • The Biden administration has decided not to roll back that step, adding a sense of stability to the Morocco-Israel deal.

There has been new momentum in relations in recent weeks.

  • Direct flights started between Tel Aviv and Casablanca and are expected to be running daily within a few months.
  • Morocco's military counterterrorism unit sent a team to Israel to participate in an international exercise — the first time Moroccan soldiers were in Israel in more than 20 years.
  • The Israeli and Moroccan cyber defense agencies also recently announced a cooperation agreement.

What’s next: Israel and Morocco are holding talks on concluding the normalization process by turning their diplomatic liaison offices in Tel Aviv and Rabat into official embassies, sources familiar with the issue tell me.

Worth noting: Israel and Morocco had low-level diplomatic relations in the 1990s, but those were severed in 2000 during the Second Intifada. The last official visit by an Israeli foreign minister came in 1999, though Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom visited in 2003 for an international conference.

Go deeper

Oct 21, 2021 - World

Israel to approve new construction in West Bank settlements

Bennett (L) and Biden discussed the settlements issue. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty

Israel will approve the construction of 4,400 new homes in the West Bank next week: 3,10o in the Jewish settlements and 1,300 in Palestinian villages.

Why it matters: This will be the first time Israel has approved new settlement building since President Biden assumed office, and it's the first time since 2007 that it approves a significant number of new homes for Palestinians in "Area C" of the West Bank, which is controlled by Israel.

Ohio sues Biden admin over reversal of Trump-era abortion referral ban

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost. Photo: Justin Merriman/Getty Images

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration Monday over a Trump-era ban on abortion referrals that President Biden overturned earlier this month.

The big picture: The lawsuit aims to reinstate two measures included in the 2019 legislation that required federally funded family planning clinics to be "financially independent of abortion clinics," and refrain from referring patients for abortions.

Oklahoma Supreme Court temporarily blocks abortion restrictions

A pro-choice activist demonstrates outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 4, 2021. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Monday temporarily blocked three abortion restrictions set to take effect on Nov. 1.

Why it matters: The laws would place new limits on medication-induced abortions and require doctors who perform abortions to attain board certification in obstetrics and gynecology.