Ha'aretz, July 25, 1999
Hassan allowed the Mossad to set up a Morocco station
By Yossi Melman, Ha'aretz Correspondent
Hassan II, King of Morocco, was the second Arab leader, after King Hussein of Jordan, to establish channels with Israel.Initially the connection with the king centered on emigration to Israel. After the sinking of the emigrant boat "Egoz" in 1961, King Mohammed V, Hassan's father, agreed to permit organized emigration to Israel by way of France. When Hassan became king, he widened this agreement and appointed his interior minister, General Ofkir, who also controlled the security services, as his contact man with Israel. According to foreign sources, Ofkir persuaded Hassan to allow the Mossad to set up a permanent station in Morocco.In return, claim these foreign publications, Israel provided technical assistance, equipment and training for the Moroccan security services, supplied information on opposition to the regime and particularly on the intentions of the then leader of Egypt, Abdul Nasser.
During the 1973 Yom Kippur War, however, Morocco sent a brigade to Syria as a symbol of identification with the Arab struggle, and this ushered in a period of cool relations between the Mossad, the Moroccan intelligence services and the royal family. The connection was renewed after the war, and Yitzhak Rabin became, in 1976, the first Prime Minister of Israel to meet with the king. The meeting, held in secret, was organized by the Mossad.
Rabin travelled to Morocco in disguise, wearing a wig to escape identification. In his talks with the king in the royal palace he discussed increasing the intelligence and security cooperation between the two countries and particularly the possibility of a peace agreement with Egypt and Jordan. Two years later, when the leader of the Likud Menachem Begin was elected Prime Minister, the diplomatic contacts reached their peak. Yitzhak Hofi, head of the Mossad and his deputy David Kimchi visited Morocco and met with the king and his advisers who helped to set up a meeting with Egypt's deputy Prime Minister, Hassan Tohami.
Following that meeting Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan visited Morocco, met with the king and with Tohami, and paved the road to Anwar Sadat's visit to Jerusalem and the signing of the Camp David peace agreements. Since then King Hassan has been one of the most active Arab leaders in advancing the peace process. He hosted Shimon Peres in his palace in 1986, and Yitzhak Rabin when he returned from signing the Oslo accords in September 1993. The peace process allowed the king to initiate a series of contacts with the Moroccan Jewish community in Israel, many of whose leaders visited Morocco. He allowed them to receive Moroccan passports, to set up contacts between the small Jewish community remaining in Morocco and their relations in Israel and establish trade, tourism and agricultural links between the two countries. In recent years diplomatic representations have also been established in Rabat and Tel Aviv
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