TEL AVIV – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu secretly met with Morocco’s Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita in New York last September during the UN General Assembly, Israel’s Channel 13 news reported.
The report cited a senior Israeli official who arranged the meeting as saying that Netanyahu had asked Bourita to work on normalizing Israeli-Moroccan ties. The Israeli premier had also offered help to Morocco regarding Iran, but no more details were given.
The Prime Minister’s Office said in response that it does “not comment on contacts with countries with which Israel does not have formal relations.”
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon said he was unaware of such a meeting.
Earlier this month, rumors began circulating that Netanyahu had been trying to organize an official visit to Morocco ahead of the elections.
Morocco’s government spokesperson Mustapha El-Khalfi declined to comment, saying only, “We do not deal in rumors.”
French-language website Le Desk last month reported that Israel’s national security adviser, Meir Ben-Shabbat, was also trying to arrange a meeting between Netanyahu and King Mohammed VI in Morocco. Ben-Shabbat was said to have received support from the U.S.
In January, Jewish Republican leaders from the U.S. visited Morocco, including Elliot Abrams, who was recently tapped as President Donald Trump’s special envoy to Venezuela.
Rabat, Morocco- with the Foreign Minister and @AriFleischer @mbrooksrjc , Elliot Abrams &Andrew King. An Arab country that that promotes tolerance-for Jews and Christians- in their Constitution. pic.twitter.com/UTZ7Kss8cL
— Norm coleman (@normcoleman) January 23, 2019