Morocco blocks rescue flight leaving dozens of Israeli tourists stranded

“The principle of mutual responsibility will continue to lead us until all Israelis return home,” said Minister of Foreign Affairs Yisrael Katz.

By Josh Plank, World Israel News

Morocco has blocked a flight to bring stranded tourists home to Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Israel Army Radio reported Thursday.

The UAE had previously evacuated 180 of its citizens that were stuck in Morocco due to the coronavirus outbreak, but another 74 remain stranded in the North African country.

Dozens of Israeli tourists have also been unable to leave Morocco. While Morocco agreed in theory to allowing the evacuation of the Israelis, El Al flights are not permitted to enter the country.

Neither the UAE or Morocco have official diplomatic relations with Israel, and neither country recognizes Israel as a state.

However, the UAE offered to give the Israelis a ride when it picked up its remaining 74 stranded citizens. The plan would have brought the Israelis home in time for Passover.

But Morocco vetoed the operation, expressing anger that the UAE had not coordinated the arrangement with them but instead had made the agreement directly with Israel.

Relations between Morocco and the UAE have been tense lately with the UAE being accused of defaming Moroccan royalty, and Morocco seeking closer ties with the UAE’s regional rival, Qatar.

Some of the Israeli tourists are staying at hotels in Marrakesh at the expense of the Moroccan government, while others are staying in the homes of members of the Jewish community in Casablanca.

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Meanwhile, 16 Israelis stranded in New Zealand are expected to arrive home on Saturday night after Germany allowed them onto a rescue flight with its citizens.

Germany has agreed to help many Israelis in recent weeks, including 31 tourists who were evacuated from New Zealand on a German flight several days ago.

In March, Minister of Foreign Affairs Yisrael Katz announced a national emergency rescue plan to bring Israelis back from abroad.

“The closures taking place around the world at a growing pace and the number of Israelis abroad have created a national emergency, which requires the implementation of a national emergency plan. The principle of mutual responsibility will continue to lead us until all Israelis return home,” he said.

Israeli embassies worldwide have been working hard on getting stranded Israelis back home including nearly 1,000 rescued from Peru last month and hundreds from India.