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Iran: Morocco deal with Israel betrays Palestinians; Oman: It could boost peace

Islamic Republic becomes one of few countries in region to oppose Trump-brokered deal; Oman rumored to be next to establish ties with Israel, praises agreement

Hossein Amir-Abdollahian speaks during a press conference in Moscow, Russia on August 3, 2012. (AP/Misha Japaridze)
Hossein Amir-Abdollahian speaks during a press conference in Moscow, Russia on August 3, 2012. (AP/Misha Japaridze)

An adviser to Iran’s parliamentary speaker said Friday that Morocco’s decision to normalize relations with Israel was a “betrayal and a stab in the back” of the Palestinians.

“Morocco announcing normalizing relations with the fake entity occupying Jerusalem is a betrayal and a stab in the back of Palestinian resistance,” tweeted Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, an adviser on international affairs and a former deputy foreign minister.

Amir-Abdollahian added that “the Zionist will not have a future in the region.”

His comments marked a rare example of a country in the region opposing the agreement brokered by US President Donald Trump on Thursday. So far, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Oman have all praised the deal, while other governments — including the Palestinian Authority — have remained silent. The Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror groups in Gaza have vehemently opposed the announcement.

Among those that lauded the ties, Oman is the only one that does not have diplomatic relations with Israel. In recent months, Muscat has been rumored as a potential candidate for doing so and even sent its ambassador to the Abraham Accords signing ceremony at the White House in September. However, the country’s leadership — like that in Saudi Arabia — has insisted that its commitment to Palestinian statehood is sacrosanct.

Nonetheless, Oman’s foreign ministry issued a statement Thursday welcoming “US recognition of Western Sahara as part of Morocco and King Mohammed VI’s announcement about normalization with Israel.”

Muscat expressed hope that the latest agreement would “strengthen efforts toward a lasting and just peace in the Middle East.”

Members of the Polisario Front, the organization disputing sovereignty over Western Sahara with Morocco, mourn their leader, Mohamed Abdelaziz, during his funeral held in the Rabouni refugees camp, southwestern Algeria, June 3, 2016. (AP Photo/Sidali Djarboub, File)

Morocco severed ties with Iran in 2018, accusing Tehran of providing funds, training and weapons to Polisario Front independence fighters in the disputed Western Sahara — a territory over which Trump recognized Moroccan sovereignty in exchange for Rabat’s agreement to normalize ties with Israel.

Morocco and Iran had only recently restored relations after years of enmity stemming from Morocco’s support for Bahrain’s Sunni monarchy, which quashed a 2011 Arab Spring uprising supported by that country’s Shiite majority.

In response to Morocco’s sheltering of the deposed shah, Iran cultivated close ties with the Polisario in the years immediately after its 1979 Islamic revolution. But Tehran denies supporting the independence movement in Western Sahara since then.

A view of the embassy of Iran in Rabat, Morocco, Tuesday, May 1, 2018. (AP Photo/Mosa’ab Elshamy)

Several European officials also praised the agreement on Friday.

Head European Union diplomat Josep Borrell said on Twitter, “Welcome important steps in relations between Israel & Morocco. This will further advance normalisation of Israeli/Arab relations, contributing to peace efforts in the Middle East.”

Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya said her country “rejoiced” at the news of the normalization, as it did with news of the other three recent deals between Israel and Arab states.

Gonzalez Laya said Spain’s position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the dispute over Western Sahara was “clear,” pointing to Madrid’s “respect for UN resolutions as a means of resolving” these matters.

The Czech Republic’s foreign minister, Tomáš Petříček, called the development “good news.”

“I’m glad to hear the announcement that Morocco and Israel agreed to normalize their relations. We have excellent ties with both of them. I am confident that given the circumstances, we are close to cooperating on mutual projects,” he said.

Agencies contributed to this report

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