נאסר בוריטה
Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita
Photo: AP
Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita

Morocco has 'special' ties to Israel and Jews, says its FM

Nasser Bourita says newly revived formal ties between two countries were 'already normal', noting the 'special history' the kingdom has with its local Jewish community, saying its religious autonomy 'is unheard of in Arab world'

Yaniv Halili |
Published: 12.13.20, 17:58
Morocco does not only hold a special relationship with Israel is special, but with the Jewish people as well, the kingdom's foreign minister said Sunday.
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  • "Morocco has an important history with its Jewish community, unique to the Arab world," Nasser Bourita said in an interview with Ynet's sister publication Yedioth Ahronoth.
    5 צפייה בגלריה
    נאסר בוריטה
    נאסר בוריטה
    Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita
    (Photo: AP)
    "King Mohammed VI is the religious head of state, and even his predecessors, including his father Hassan II, respected and protected the Jewish community. Morocco's relationship with the Jewish people is a special one, unheard of in any other Arab nation."
    Last Thursday, Rabat announced its decision to normalize diplomatic relations with Jerusalem.
    Morocco closed its liaison office in Tel Aviv in 2000 at the start of the second Palestinian intifada.
    In return, President Donald Trump announced the U.S.'s decision to recognize Morocco's contested sovereignty in Western Sahara, infuriating the Algerian-backed Polisario Front which controls about one-fifth of the vast, arid region.
    The kingdom was the fourth Arab country this year to unveil plans to normalize ties with Israel through a U.S.-brokered deal, following the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan.
    5 צפייה בגלריה
    King Mohammed VI (C) during a visit to the "Bayt Dakira" (House of Memory) museum, in the Atlantic coastal city of Essaouira
    King Mohammed VI (C) during a visit to the "Bayt Dakira" (House of Memory) museum, in the Atlantic coastal city of Essaouira
    King Mohammed VI, center, during a visit to the "Bayt Dakira" (House of Memory) museum, in the Atlantic coastal city of Essaouira
    (Photo: Reuters)
    Bourita also praised the religious and communal autonomy that Morocco's Jews have, noting that the kingdom's constitution is the only one that recognizes all Abrahamic religions.
    "The Jewish community in Casablanca for example, has their own religious court, synagogue and its followers are given full freedom of religious practices," he said.
    "Israel's Jewish Moroccan community, which numbers some 700,000, still holds to a special relationship with Morocco. From what I understand, nearly 70,000 Israelis visited here just last year.
    "From our perspective, we are not talking about normalization because relations were already normal. We are talking about [re-formalizing] the relations between the countries to the relations we had, because there have been relations the entire time. They never stopped."
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    Morocco's Prime Minister Saad-Eddine El Othmani
    Morocco's Prime Minister Saad-Eddine El Othmani
    Morocco's Prime Minister Saad-Eddine El Othmani
    (Photo: AFP)
    Several senior political figures within Morocco lambasted the announcement, among them Prime Minister Saad-Eddine El Othmani, who leads the Justice and Development Party - the kingdoms' biggest Muslim political organization.
    Joining him in condemnation was also the Minister of Labor Mohamed Amakraz, seen as one of Morocco's most promising young politicians.
    Both described Israel as a "Zionist Occupier," adding that they believe in "the Palestinian right [to a state] and the Palestinian claim for it."
    Despite their disapproval, both leaders proclaimed their continued support for King Mohammed VI.
    The Palestinians have condemned the string of normalization announcements, which broke with decades of Arab League consensus that there should be no recognition of Israel until it agrees to a peace that includes the creation of a Palestinian state.
    5 צפייה בגלריה
    L-R: Bahrain FM Abdullatif al-Zayani, PM Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. President Donald Trump, and Emirati FM Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan at the signing of the Abraham Accords at the White House
    L-R: Bahrain FM Abdullatif al-Zayani, PM Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. President Donald Trump, and Emirati FM Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan at the signing of the Abraham Accords at the White House
    L-R: Bahrain FM Abdullatif al-Zayani, PM Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. President Donald Trump, and Emirati FM Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan at the signing of the Abraham Accords at the White House
    (Photo: AFP)
    Abu Dhabi and Manama have already concluded deals with the Jewish state.
    Opposition to the deals has emerged as a unifying force between the two main Palestinian entities on the ground, Fatah and Hamas.
    Fatah controls the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority and its rival Hamas, an Islamist terrorist movement, controls the Palestinian enclave of Gaza.
    Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas headed to Qatar on Sunday for a two-day visit, including a meeting with Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.
    5 צפייה בגלריה
    Head of Palestinian Election Comittee meets Ismail Haniyeh and Yahya Sinwar
    Head of Palestinian Election Comittee meets Ismail Haniyeh and Yahya Sinwar
    Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, left, and the leader of the movement in Gaza Yahya Sinwar
    (Photo: AP)
    Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh is currently based in Qatar, but there was no immediate confirmation that he and Abbas would meet.
    Despite unity among rival Palestinian factions against normalization by Arab states, Israel's former UN ambassador Danny Danon said the Palestinians needed to "understand that today there is a new paradigm."
    The Arab model of no ties with Israel until the Palestinian conflict is resolved has been cast aside, he argued.
    "The new paradigm is first we are forging ties with the Muslim world, with the Arab countries, and together with them we can approach the Palestinians," Danon said, suggesting that future peace talks could include delegates from other Arab states.

    AFP contributed to this article.


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