'Medal of Mohammed': Outgoing US President Trump receives award from Morocco's king for Israel deal
Trump’s award was a show of gratitude from Rabat for the president's role in manoeuvring a normalisation deal with Israel, the source revealed.
On Friday, Morocco’s Ambassador to Washington Princess Lalla Jumana Alaoui presented the president with the “Medal of Mohammed”, an award and gift from Morocco’s King Mohammed VI that is only reserved for heads of states.
Chief White House adviser and Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as well as the US’ Middle East envoy, Avi Berkowitz, also received awards for their efforts in the normalisation deal between Morocco and Israel.
Similarly, Trump, in a last-minute push to solidify Morocco's normalisation with Israel, bestowed a rare award on Friday on its king as his administration rallied international support in a regional dispute.
Trump, who sees Arab recognition of Israel as a key overseas achievement of his presidency, last month broke decades of precedent by recognising Morocco's full sovereignty over contested Western Sahara, with Morocco in turn saying it would normalise relations with the Jewish state.
The White House said it presented King Mohammed VI with the Legion of Merit, degree of Chief Commander, five days before Trump's departure in a private ceremony in Washington in which Morocco's ambassador accepted.
The military award was created to honour allied leaders in World War II and had gone into obscurity until it was revived by Trump, who last month also presented it to the prime ministers of Australia, India and Japan.
"His vision and personal courage - including his decision to resume ties with the State of Israel - have positively reshaped the landscape of the Middle East and North Africa and ushered in a new era of security and prosperity for both our countries and the world," a White House statement said.
President-elect Joe Biden has not committed to maintaining Trump's recognition of Moroccan sovereignty in Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony where tensions have simmered since the 1970s as the Algerian-backed Polisario Front fights for independence.
Morocco controls most of Western Sahara but its sovereignty is not recognised by the United Nations.