WASHINGTON – "I was told to get to the airport as soon as possible and leave Morocco," veteran Israeli diplomat David Saranga told Ynet Monday, a day after tens of thousands of people held a mass rally in Rabat to protest his presence there.
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The Yedioth Ahronoth daily reported that Saranga, who was in Rabat for a Euro-Mediterranean Partnership conference, was taken out of the parliament building through a side door for fear that the protesters outside would attack him.
Anti-Israel demonstration in Rabat
Saranga, the head of the European Parliament Liaison Department at the Mission of Israel to the EU, returned to Brussels safely on Monday.
"We were holding talks at the parliament building in Rabat while thousands outside were protesting the presence of an Israeli representative," Saranga told Ynet.
'Free al-Aqsa.' Anti-Israel rally in Rabat, Sunday (Photo: Reuters)
"As early as Saturday, when we were discussing the environment, energy and women's rights, I could see people protesting outside. The Tunisian representative told me they were calling for the release of Palestinian prisoners. He stopped smiling after finding out I was Israeli," the diplomat recounted.
"There were maybe a 100,000 demonstrators who yelled and waved signs – and that was that."
During Sunday's discussions an EU representative turned Saranga's attention to the commotion outside. "I looked out the window and saw thousands of people. The parliament building's gates were locked so we were protected, but from the second-floor windows I saw swastikas and people burning Israeli flags," he said.
"The talks inside continued as scheduled, but every now and then people would look out the window to see what was going on," Saranga recalled. "Inside the building the photographers began focusing on me, and I asked security personnel for advice. They told me to get to the airport as soon as possible and leave Morocco."
Within an hour the conference organizers had a team of bodyguards prepared to escort Saranga to his hotel. "They took me out of the building through a side door, but I did not feel threatened at any time. After picking up my belongings at the hotel, I was quickly taken to the airport, where I boarded the first flight to Paris," he said.
The incident left the Israeli diplomat disappointed: "It’s a shame that instead of receiving positive feedback, our projects, which promote peace and understanding, draw anti-dialogue demonstrations."
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