There were Jews living in
Mauritania - located between Senegal, Western
Sahara, and the North Atlantic Ocean - as
early as the fall of the biblical Jewish state when the Temple was destroyed in
70 BCE. At that point, many Jews spread throughout the Roman
Empire, including the province of Mauritania.
Divided into groups that paid taxes to the
Romans, they raised cattle, farmed, and traded.
Under the Romans and Vandals (after 429),
the Jews of Mauritania flourished. After
the Byzantines gained control in 534, a series
of restrictive laws were enacted agains
the Jews, Arians, Donatists, and other dissenters.
Following the Arab League's decision to declare war on Israel in 1967, which resulted in the Six-Day War, Mauritania was officially in state of war with Israel until that decision was reversed in mid-1999. Israelis, however, were seemingly oblivious to this ongoing state of war.
Mauritania did not initially recognize Israel's right to exist, however in October 1999, the two countries exchanged diplomatic representatives, making Mauritania only one of three members of the Arab League to recognize Israel as a sovereign state (the others being Egypt and Jordan).
The establishment of full diplomatic relations was undertaken by then-president Maaouya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya and was signed, with Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy and US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, 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.
During Israel's Operation Cast Lead in Gaza in 2009, the Mauritanian government recalled its ambassador amid street protests against the Israeli offensive. The following month, Mauritania suspended its diplomatic ties and froze all state relations with Israel. On March 6, 2009, the Mauritanian government evicted all staff from the Israeli embassy in the capital city of Nouakchott and Israel officially closed the embassy later in the day, according to an announcement by its Foreign Affairs Ministry.
By March 21, 2010, all diplomatic relations between the two states had officially come to an end.