Morocco’s Prime Minister - Saad-Eddine El Othmani - has cast a shadow over Morocco’s newly emerging diplomatic ties with Israel as his Government rejects President Trump’s peace plan providing for negotiations on a demilitarized Palestinian Arab state in Gaza and 70% of Judea and Samaria (Peace Plan).
Following the White House announcement on 11 December that Trump had brokered an agreement between Israel and Morocco to make peace, normalize their relations, and resume full diplomatic relations – Othmani said that King Mohammed VI had phoned PLO President Mahmoud Abbas:
“to tell him that His Majesty’s position in support of the Palestinian cause remains unshakeable, and that Morocco places it at the same level of Sahara issue”
The Sahara issue Othmani referred to was the historic Proclamation signed by Trump on 4 December 2020:
“I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim that, the United States recognizes that the entire Western Sahara territory is part of the Kingdom of Morocco.”
In justifying his Proclamation – Trump stated:
“The United States affirms, as stated by previous Administrations, its support for Morocco’s autonomy proposal as the only basis for a just and lasting solution to the dispute over the Western Sahara territory. Therefore, as of today, the United States recognizes Moroccan sovereignty over the entire Western Sahara territory and reaffirms its support for Morocco’s serious, credible, and realistic autonomy proposal as the only basis for a just and lasting solution to the dispute over the Western Sahara territory. The United States believes that an independent Sahrawi State is not a realistic option for resolving the conflict and that genuine autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty is the only feasible solution”
Othmani - who heads the conservative Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) – after revealing the King’s phone call to Abbas – then lashed out at Trump’s Peace Plan, his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and his recognition that Israel had legal rights to claim sovereignty in Judea and Samaria and the Golan Heights:
“We also adopt this principle [in the government], with our constant emphasis on rejecting the Deal of the Century, and all violations of the Israeli occupation authorities, especially the recent attempts to Judaize Jerusalem,”
Supporting Trump’s two-state-solution as espoused in Trump’s Peace Plan is not inconsistent with supporting the “Palestinian cause”.
Othmani is no supporter of the Morocco-Israel peace deal as he made clear in August:
“We refuse any normalisation with the Zionist entity because this emboldens it to go further in breaching the rights of the Palestinian people.”
Othmani was clearly overuled by the King – as the pace of peace between Israel and Morocco quickens.
A three-person delegation landed in Israel this past Sunday to handle logistics ahead of reopening the Moroccan liaison office in Tel Aviv - which it has maintained for the past 20 years since Morocco cut official ties.
Israel had also retained its closed office in Morocco.
Last week White House Special Adviser Jared Kushner led an Israeli-US delegation to Morocco when both countries committed to reopening these offices within two weeks.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has invited Morocco’s King Mohammed VI to visit Israel – reportedly telling him – quoting from the film Casablanca.
“This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship,”
It certainly will be if the King:
- endorses Trump’s Peace Plan,
- calls on Abbas to begin negotiations with Israel on Trump’s plan and
- disassociates himself unreservedly from Othmani’s inflammatory anti-Israel views
Trump’s Peace Plan – with Morocco’s backing – as a starting point for renewed negotiations, can help end the 100 years-old unresolved Arab-Jewish conflict.
Author’s note: The cartoon – commissioned exclusively for this article—is by Yaakov Kirschen aka “Dry Bones”- one of Israel’s foremost political and social commentators – whose cartoons have graced the columns of Israeli and international media publications for decades. His cartoons can be viewed at Drybonesblog
David Singer is an Australian lawyer who is active in Zionist community organizations in that country. He founded the "Jordan is Palestine" Committee in 1979.