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Israel airlines launch direct flights to Morocco

Two Israeli airlines start their first commercial flights to Casablanca since Morocco normalised relations with Israel
El Al airlines and IsrAir said they plan to expand their operations to Marrakesh (AFP)

Israeli airlines started commercial flights from Israel to Morocco on Sunday, their first since the two countries normalised relations last year. 

IsrAir spokesperson Tali Leibovitz told AFP that at least 100 passengers left Tel Aviv on Sunday for Marrakesh.

Leibovitz added that IsrAir plans to add two to three flights per week to Marrakesh and Casablanca. 

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El Al airlines also started its service to Marrakesh on Sunday and is planning for five flights per week to the city and Casablanca. 

During a ceremony attended by Moroccan envoy Abderrahim Beyyoudh that sent off the El Al flight, Israel's Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov said the service would boost "trade, tourism economic cooperation between the two countries," according to an El Al statement. 

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said he would be visiting Morocco after direct flights began. 

Morocco is one of the four Middle East and North African countries that normalised relations with Israel in 2020. The others are Bahrain, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates. 

Rabat's decision to normalise relations with Israel came after then US president Donald Trump recognised Morocco's sovereignty over Western Sahara, a disputed and divided former Spanish colony. 

Morocco is home to North Africa's largest Jewish community, with 700,000 Jews of Moroccan origin living in Israel. 

Before normalising relations, Morocco had a liaison office in Tel Aviv, but relations came to an end following the outbreak of the Second Intifada between 2000-2005.