History of the Jews in Mauritania

History of the Jews in Mauritania spans from as early as the fall of the Jewish state in 70 BCE.[1] They spread throughout the Roman Empire, including the province of Mauritania raising cattle, farming, and trading.[1] After the Byzantines gained control in 534 CE, a series of restrictive laws were enacted against the Jews and other dissenters.[1]

Mauritania declared war on Israel as a result of the 1967 Six-Day War,[2] following the Arab League's collective decision (Mauritania was not admitted to the League until November 1973[3]), and did not reverse that declaration until at least 1991[2] and, seemingly, for some 32 years in about early-mid-1999. Israelis were seemingly oblivious to the ongoing state of war.[2]

Mauritania did not abide by moves to refuse to recognise Israel's right to exist in the same way as most other Arab countries, after the earlier 1967 Khartoum Resolution.

Little public information exists, and it must be inferred from:

  • behind the scenes meetings between Mauritania and Israel in 1995 and 1996 said to be at the instigation of Mauritania's President Ould Taya;[4]
  • the establishment of unofficial "interest sections" in the respective Spanish embassies in 1996 in the two capital cities,[4] leading to;
  • the exchange of diplomatic representatives in each other's countries from 27 October 1999;[5] that Mauritania had reversed its declaration by then.

In 1999, Mauritania became one of three members of the Arab League to recognize Israel as a sovereign state (the others being Egypt and Jordan).[6] This recognition was given by former president Maaouya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya along with his cooperation with United States anti-terrorism activities. The establishment of full diplomatic relations was signed in Washington DC on October 28, 1999. After the coup by the Military Council for Justice and Democracy in August 2005, recognition of Israel was maintained.

Mauritania suspended its diplomatic ties with Israel over the fighting in Gaza in 2009.[7] Earlier in January 2009, the Mauritanian government had recalled its ambassador from Israel amid street protests against Israel's attack on Gaza.[7]

As a response to the conflict in the Gaza Strip, relations were frozen with Israel in January 2009.[8] In February 2009, Mauritania recalled its ambassador from Israel,[6] and on 6 March 2009 staff were evicted from the Israeli embassy in Nouakchott, and given 48 hours to leave Mauritania.[9] Israel officially closed the embassy later in the day, according to an announcement by its Foreign Affairs Ministry.[10] By 21 March 2010 all diplomatic relations between the two states had officially come to an end.[11]

See also

Foreign relations of Mauritania#Israel


  1. 1 2 3 The Virtual Jewish History Tour - Mauritania, Joanna Sloame, Jewish Virtual Library
  2. 1 2 3 Amos Oz interview with Phillip Adams, 10 September 1991, re-broadcast on ABC Radio National 23 December 2011
  3. The encyclopedia of the Arab-Israeli conflict: a political, social, and military history, Volume 1 A-H, Spencer Tucker, ABC-CLIO Inc, 2008, p127, accessed 25 December 2011
  4. 1 2 Historical dictionary of Mauritania, Anthony G. Pazzanita, Scarecrow Press Inc, Lanham, Maryland USA, 2008, p216, accessed 25 December 2011
  5. A political chronology of Africa, David Lea, Annamarie Rowe, Europa Publications Ltd, London, 2001, ISBN o-203-40309-6, p289, accessed 25 December 2011
  6. 1 2 Friedman, Matti (6 March 2009). "Officials: Mauritania expels Israeli ambassador". Associated Press. Retrieved 7 March 2009.
  7. 1 2 Mauritania, Qatar Cut Diplomatic Ties With Israel Over Gaza Conflict, Fox News, January 16, 2009
  8. Sidi Salem, Hachem; Fertey, Vincent (6 March 2009). "Mauritania tells Israel embassy to leave". International Herald Tribune. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 7 March 2009.
  9. Sidi Salem, Hachem (6 March 2009). "Staff leave Israeli embassy in Mauritania". Thomson Reuters. Retrieved 7 March 2009.
  10. "Israel closes Mauritania embassy". BBC. 2009-03-06. Retrieved 2009-03-07.
  11. "Mauritania severs all diplomatic ties with Israel"
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