Women’s basketball had a historic day last Wednesday, when the Moroccan women’s national team faced Israel in a friendly match as part of the sports cooperation program implemented as part of the process of diplomatic normalization between the two countries.
This restoration of relations between Morocco and Israel is part of the measures proposed in the “Abraham Accords”, a project backed by the former administration of Donald Trump, which aims to normalize government relations between the Jewish state and various Arab countries.
It was the first time that an Israeli basketball team faced an Arab team in their country. The Moroccan team won 62-58 in a thrilling match at a gymnasium in Salé, near Rabat. The match was watched by some 200 spectators at the invitation of the local federation, including many young Moroccan basketball players.
Relations between the two countries are improving day by day, and the result is the agreement that the Royal Moroccan Basketball Federation (FRMBB) and the Israeli Basketball Association (IBBA) signed last Tuesday in Rabat, in the presence of Hamane Niang, President of the International Basketball Federation. The agreement provides for the organization of tournaments, friendly matches and a program allowing the participation of Moroccan coaches in training courses in Israel.
Despite the political context of the situation, FRMBB President Moustapha Aourach said: “We are here for sport and nothing but sport. Our goal is to improve the level of our basketball. There will be ‘other games in other categories’, he told AFP microphones. His Israeli counterpart supported him: “It’s no secret that there are many sensitive points in relations with Arab nations, but we are not politicians, we are here to play basketball”.
And it seems obvious that all these rapprochements are the result of the improvement in relations between the two countries, channeled through what the Moroccan Minister of Education and Sports, Chakib Benmoussa, called “sports diplomacy”, approved in turn by the Moroccan people themselves. Wednesday’s game passed without protest, adding to the absence of massive criticism following successive steps towards normalizing relations with Israel.
It was Donald Trump himself who, in the final months of his tenure in the White House, began to cement this transformation. which is now bearing fruit in the Middle East, which underpinned Morocco’s thesis concerning its sovereignty over Western Sahara.
The highlight was the signing and establishment of the “Abraham Accords” on August 13, 2020. Through this alliance, various plans were made for the development of the two countries. In April this year, a series of cooperation projects were developed between the two countries, involving alliances in the fields of aerospace, cybersecurity and construction.
With the first, it was for the two countries to work together on new projects in the field of aviation, with the creation of an aerospace research and development center. The signing of the agreement by both parties is a further sign of their growing cooperation.
In terms of cybersecurity, the pact aims to advance operational collaboration between Morocco and Israel, research and development in R&D. and the exchange of information and knowledge, in what constitutes the first agreement sealed in the field of cyber defense since the establishment of the rapprochement between the two countries.
Sport was the last channel through which agreement between them and diplomatic improvements took place. This match will go down in the history of Moroccan and Israeli basketball as the beginning of a mutually beneficial relationship in which sporting activity can serve to seal the government agreements that are reached.