The disputed territory of Western Sahara was central to a deal announced by US President Donald Trump, establishing diplomatic ties between Morocco and Israel.
The United States has adopted a “new official” map of Morocco that includes the disputed territory of Western Sahara, the ambassador to Rabat said.
“This map is a tangible representation of President Trump’s bold proclamation two days ago, recognising Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara,” Ambassador David Fischer said according to a statement seen by AFP.
He then signed the “new official US government map of the kingdom of Morocco” at a ceremony at the US embassy in the capital Rabat.
Yesterday, the U.S. recognized Moroccan sovereignty over the entire Western Sahara territory. Morocco’s serious, credible, and realistic autonomy proposal is the only basis for a just and lasting solution to the dispute over the Western Sahara territory. https://t.co/UOJ2RQyyuo— Cale Brown (@StateDeputySPOX) December 11, 2020
Another HISTORIC breakthrough today! 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!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 10, 2020
Long disputed region
Western Sahara is a disputed and divided former Spanish colony, mostly under Morocco’s control, where tensions with the pro-independence Polisario Front have simmered since the 1970s.
Morocco on Thursday became the fourth Arab state this year, after the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan, to announce it had agreed to normalise relations with Israel.
US President Donald Trump in turn fulfilled a decades-old goal of Morocco by backing its contested sovereignty in Western Sahara.
The Polsario vows to fight on
The pro-independence Polisario Front, representing the local Sahrawi population and backed by Algeria, fought Moroccan forces for years for control of the territory.
Some countries recognise Western Sahara as independent, some others support Morocco’s claims on the land, while others back a long-running UN effort to seek a negotiated solution.
The Polisario condemned “in the strongest terms the fact that outgoing American President Donald Trump attributes to Morocco something which does not belong” to the country, namely sovereignty over Western Sahara.
The movement dismissed the announcement and vowed to fight on until Moroccan forces withdraw from all of Western Sahara.
The prime minister of Algeria, Morocco’s neighbour and regional rival, and the key foreign backer of the Polisario Front, on Saturday criticised “foreign manoeuvres” that he said aimed to “destabilise Algeria”.
“There is now a desire by the Zionist entity to come closer to our borders,” Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad said, in reference to Israel.
The territory is home to one of the UN’s longest running peace-keeping forces, in place since 1991 to monitor a ceasefire and help prepare for a referendum on the territory’s future, which has never taken place.