Tuesday, 19 Jan 2021 - 6 of Shevat, 5781

Morocco to mediate between Israelis and Palestinians in the wake of normalization?

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‘’Morocco is known for its historic mediation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.King Mohammed VI is chairman of a committee called Al Quds (Jerusalem) which works for Palestinian rights and he has excellent relations with both Israelis and Palestinians. So if today the entire international community is working for the rapprochement of the Israelis and the Palestinians for a peace solution, Morocco presents itself as an additional support  to all these efforts,’’ says Adil Zaari, European Director of Morocco’s press agency MAP.

”This is not the first time that Morocco has played a role in mediating between Israel and the Palestinians. ‘’During King Hassan II’s term, he hosted (then Israeli Foreign Minister) Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat in Rabat in 1995. Morocco also played an important role in the Camp David negotiations.’’

 

Will the announcement this week of the normalization of relations between Morocco and Israel lead to an Israeli-Palestinian meeting in Morocco ?

‘’Morocco intends to take advantage of its diplomatic relations with Israel, the exceptional links with Moroccan Jews, who are more than a million, the esteem enjoyed by the Moroccan monarchy to promote peace in the region and encourage negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians on the basis of the two-state solution,’’ Morocco’s Ambassador to Belgium, Mohammed Ameur, told European Jewish Press (EJP).

Morocco has become the fourth country to agree to normalize relations with Israel in the last four months, after the United Arab Emirates, Bahrein and Sudan.

US President Donald Trump made the announcement on Twitter. He also announced the recognition by the the U.S. of Morocco’s sovereignty over the Western Sahara.

Explaining the decision to normalize relations with Israel, Morocco’s King Mohammed VI cited “the historical role that Morocco has played in bringing the peoples of the region together and supporting security and stability in the Middle East and given the special ties that bind the Jewish community of Moroccan origin, including those in Israel.”

The decision came after years of exchanges of letters and visits both official and informal. The announcement represents the crowning achievement of this process,” explains Ambassador Ameur.

‘’We have in our country a very strong Moroccan community of Jewish faith,’’ says Adil Zaari, European Director of the Maghreb Arab Press (MAP), Morocco’s press agency, in an interview with European Jewish Press.

‘’They are in politics, in business, showbiz, cinema. We have an adviser to King Mohammed VI, André Azoulay, who is Jewish. Her daughter is the Dierctor General of Unesco.’’

Israel and Morocco had already in the 1990s liaison offices in Rabat and Tel Aviv which were established during the reign of the late King Hassan II in order to ease the economic relations and the interests of the important Moroccan Jewish community living in Israel. However, in 2000, after the outbreak of the Second Intifada, Morocco ended all diplomatic ties with Israel and closed its mission in Tel Aviv. Since then, Israel-Morocco ties have gradually increased, albeit under the radar, especially in the field of intelligence gathering.

‘’Morocco is known for its historic mediation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.The King is chairman of a committee called Al Quds (Jerusalem) which works for Palestinian rights and he has excellent relations with both Israelis and Palestinians. So if today the entire international community is working for the rapprochement of the Israelis and the Palestinians for a peace solution, Morocco presents itself as an additional support  to all these efforts,’’ says Adil Zaari.

He adds: ‘’So why not shelter in the future an Israeli-Palestinian meeting on Moroccan soil as was done when King Mohammed VI had received Pope Francis last year. Morocco is a land of meetings and a land of tolerance. Moroccans perceive the normalization (with Israel) as a gesture that is part of the normality of international relations and of multilateralism. A policy which means that one cannot remain a prisoner of isolated positions. There is an international dynamic. There is also an Arab dynamic of recognition of Israel for the benefit of the Arab peoples and the Palestinian people. Why not join in this dynamic?’’

King Mohammed VI has called Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to inform him of the decision to restore ties with Israel. ‘’He reassured him of Morocco’s historic position of defending the two-state solution, the preservation of Palestinian rights and that he will continue his fight to defend within the framework of the international community both the right of the Palestinians to recover their land and to find a comprehensive peace solution within the process of normalization of relations between the Israelis and the Arab peoples,’’ explains Zaari.

Adil Zaari, European Director of MAP, Morocco’s press agency.

He recalls that this is not the first time that Morocco has played a role in mediating between Israel and the Palestinians. ‘’During King Hassan II’s term, he hosted (then Israeli Foreign Minister) Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat in Rabat in 1995. Morocco also played an important role in the Camp David negotiations.’’

Morocco recently hosted a dialogue of the various Libyan factions. ‘’Today we are going through a new process thanks to this mediation. So why not an Israeli-Palestinian meeting in Morocco?,’’ asks Zaari.

US President Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the King of Morocco will hold a three-way conversation to discuss the depth and speed of the normalisation process.

Morocco and Israel will take three steps soon: begin direct flights between the two countries, open liaison offices in Tel Aviv and Rabat, with the intention to open embassies, and sign cooperation agreements in the economic and technology sectors.

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