Moroccan Islamist groups reject normalising ties with Israel

The religious branch of the co-ruling PJD party described the move as ‘deplorable’

Morocco’s main Islamist groups rejected the government’s plan to normalise ties with Israel, following a deal brokered by the United States.

The religious branch of the co-ruling PJD party, the Unity and Reform Movement (MUR), said in a statement on Saturday the move was “deplorable” and denounced “all attempts at normalisation and the Zionist infiltration”.

The Islamist PJD party was more nuanced, endorsing King Mohammed VI’s actions support for the Palestinian cause while reiterating the party’s “firm position against the Zionist occupation”.

Unlike its government coalition partners who backed the deal, it took the PJD two days to react after disagreements emerged between the party’s senior leadership, according to a source close to the matter.

Morocco this week became the fourth Arab nation since August to announce a US-brokered deal to normalise relations with Israel, following the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan.

A core element of the deal brokered by Donald Trump was US recognition of Morocco’s claim to sovereignty over the Western Sahara. A decades-old territorial dispute has pitted Morocco against the Algeria-backed Polisario Front, which seeks to establish an independent state.

“The United States made an important proclamation that stresses Morocco’s sovereignty over its southern provinces and opens new horizons for strengthening Morocco’s position in international circles. It also further isolates the adversaries of our territorial integrity,” the Islamist party said in a statement.

King Mohammed VI has the last say over major diplomatic decisions.

On Friday, Morocco’s outlawed Adl Wal Ihssane, one of the largest opposition groups in the country, said normalisation deals a “stab from the back to the Palestinian cause”.

Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said liaison offices would be reopened in Tel Aviv and Rabat, which Morocco closed in 2000 at the start of the second Palestinian uprising, and full diplomatic relations would be established “as rapidly as possible”.

Jewish history and culture in Morocco will also soon be part of the school curriculum - a “first” in the region and in the North African country, where Islam is the state religion.

The decision “has the impact of a tsunami,” said Serge Berdugo, secretary-general of the Council of Jewish Communities of Morocco.

It “is a first in the Arab world”, he said from Casablanca.

The decision to add Jewish history and culture to lessons was discreetly launched before the diplomatic deal was announced.

Morocco’s Jewish community has been present since antiquity and grew over the centuries, particularly with the arrival of Jews expelled from Spain by the Catholic kings after 1492.

At the end of the 1940s, Jewish Moroccans numbered about 250,000 – some 10 percent of the population.

Many left after the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, and the community now numbers around 3,000, still the largest in North Africa.

Staff and agencies

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Israeli spyware used to target Moroccan journalist, Amnesty claims
Amnesty alleges phone of Omar Radi in Morocco was infected by NSO’s Pegasus software

Stephanie Kirchgaessner in Washington

21, Jun, 2020 @10:00 PM

Article image
Arab anger as Hillary Clinton backs Israel on settlements
'Israel can get away with anything,' claims Arab League as Clinton praises 'unprecedented' concessions by Israel

Ian Black, Middle East correspondent

02, Nov, 2009 @3:40 PM

Article image
Israel and Morocco agree to ‘full diplomatic relations’, says Trump
US president’s announcement marks fourth Arab-Israel agreement in four months

Oliver Holmes in Jerusalem

10, Dec, 2020 @5:34 PM

Article image
Sudan and Israel agree US-brokered deal on normalising relations
Donald Trump seeks to score points from deal; Palestinians call it ‘a new stab in the back’

Jason Burke and Oliver Holmes

23, Oct, 2020 @5:56 PM

Moroccan women in 3-D

My recent visit to Morocco helped to flesh out, in three dimensions, what it means to be a Moroccan and Arab woman today

Khaled Diab

03, Apr, 2008 @1:00 PM

Article image
Moroccan police summon journalist days after Israeli spyware allegations
Omar Radi says police questioning ‘clearly linked’ to Amnesty’s claim he was targeted by NSO Group spyware

Stephanie Kirchgaessner in Washington

24, Jun, 2020 @8:32 PM

Article image
Turkey suspends military ties with Israel
Turkish prime minister warns further sanctions likely after Israel refuses to apologise for 2010's deadly raid on aid flotilla

Harriet Sherwood in Jerusalem

06, Sep, 2011 @2:27 PM

Article image
Moroccan teenager's death puts focus on women's rights

Protests over case of 16-year old Amina Filali, who killed herself after court ordered her to marry man who allegedly raped her

Afua Hirsch, west Africa correspondent

03, Apr, 2012 @2:02 PM

Article image
SNCF found guilty of discriminating against Moroccan workers
French rail operator ordered to pay €150m in damages to around 800 north African workers first hired in 1970s

Kim Willsher

21, Sep, 2015 @1:31 PM

Article image
Moroccan Isis terrorists ‘pose a threat on Europe’s doorstep’
Hundreds of Islamic State fighters have sneaked back into north Africa – and could use it as a base for further attacks

Martin Chulov

19, Aug, 2017 @11:04 PM