Mustapha Ezzarghani

Exclusive Interview with Mustapha Ezzarghani

The cooperation between Algeria and Iran is a shared security concern for both Israel and Morocco. The following is an interview with Mustapha Ezzarghani, the president and co-founder of The Moroccan-Israeli Friendship Association (MIFA) in the United States, who shares his thoughts on the relationship between the two countries and the implications for regional security.

Since the resumption of diplomatic relations between Morocco and Israel, announcements of partnerships have multiplied. What are the opportunities for both countries?

– Both countries have similar diplomatic interests and historical relationships with Washington, which should push both countries to work together to strengthen these ties and to ensure that the perspectives of both states are aligned.

Energy sovereignty is a priority for the Moroccan government. What are the prospects for cooperation between Rabat and Tel Aviv on this issue?

– Israel has been working since 2009 on the development and exploitation of gas located in the Eastern Mediterranean. Currently, Israel has discovered large gas deposits in its territorial waters, which is of particular interest to Europe, which has been looking for an alternative since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine.

Moreover, this opportunity is also open to Morocco, since the African continent is rich in natural gas, especially following the discovery of large reserves in Nigeria. If this natural resource is transported to the North through the Nigeria-Morocco gas pipeline, it could represent a reliable alternative for Europe, which needs, now more than ever, to diversify its gas suppliers.

The therapeutic use of cannabis is also an area of expertise for Israel. Morocco has just legalized the medical use of this plant. Is this sector of interest to Israeli investors?

– Israel is researching the pharmaceutical uses of cannabis, and this information will certainly be shared with Morocco. Israel has demonstrated its expertise in medical research and has identified numerous medical benefits of cannabis through their work. If the Moroccan state is considering collaboration with Israel in this regard, it will find Israel at its side.

Security cooperation is also an important point of cooperation between the two countries. What is at stake?

– Unfortunately, the links between Iran and Algeria are dangerous and could impact the interests of the Moroccan state as well as those of Israel. I believe that both countries have an interest in seeing Iranian expansion stopped, to ensure stability in the region.

The evolution of all the points we have mentioned requires that the two countries remain on the same wavelength on several levels. Don’t you think that the conflict between Israel and Palestine could cause problems between the two countries?

– I believe that the Kingdom of Morocco realizes that Israel has made considerable efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The last attempt that America made to develop a peace plan was during the  Obama administration, when Mahmoud Abbas visited the White House.

President Obama asked President Abbas if he accepted the project proposed by the United States, and the Palestinian leader’s response, as reported by the Washington Post, was “I will come back to you,” as it was not in line with Palestinian expectations. Tel Aviv, on the other hand, agreed. Today, the Moroccan-Israeli relationship could be a lever to strengthen the dialogue between the two sides.

As far as the Moroccan Sahara is concerned, Israel’s position is not in line with the expectations of Moroccans, who would like to see Tel Aviv do the same as the United States. How do you explain this hesitation?

– Israeli Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, during her recent visit to Morocco, said that Israel supports Moroccan sovereignty over the Sahara. Israel has an interest in Morocco winning this issue, and the Polisario has supported the Iranian vision, which makes it obvious that the Israeli choice will never be on its side. I believe that Israeli position on the Moroccan Sahara will be more clear after opening the Embassies officially.