Moroccan senate head cancels Israel visit after hospitalization in Jordan

Israel, Morocco say they will work to reschedule Enaam Mayara’s landmark trip to Knesset as it’s called off due to ’emergency medical situation’

President of the Moroccan House of Councillors, Enaam Mayara, speaking in Johannesburg, South Africa, in May 2023 (Screenshot from Twitter used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
President of the Moroccan House of Councillors, Enaam Mayara, speaking in Johannesburg, South Africa, in May 2023 (Screenshot from Twitter used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

A landmark visit to Israel by the head of Morocco’s senate, Enaam Mayara, was called off after the Knesset announced Wednesday that he was hospitalized.

The Knesset’s spokesperson’s office said Sunday that Mayara was set to make an official visit Thursday to Israel’s parliament. The trip would have marked the first time a Moroccan leader has visited Israel’s legislative body, as well as being one of the most high-level visits by a foreign Muslim politician to the Knesset.

But according to the latest Knesset update, Mayara has been hospitalized in Jordan since Tuesday, leading him to scrap a planned trip Wednesday to the West Bank city of Ramallah.

After consulting with doctors at the Jordanian hospital, Mayara also decided to cancel his trip to Israel, with a joint statement from the Knesset and Moroccan senate citing his “continued medical situation.”

The statement did not specify what was ailing Mayara, saying only that he was hospitalized after an “emergency medical situation.”

The sides added that they would work to reschedule the visit following Mayara’s return to Morocco.

“The ties between the countries are increasing and the Moroccan senate president’s visit was meant to be one of the highlights, but we are of course following after his health situation with concern and wish him a speedy recovery and full health,” Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana was quoted as saying in the statement.

Morocco’s Parliament Speaker Rachid Talbi Alami (R) listens to visiting Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana (C) speak in Rabat on June 8, 2023. (AFP)

Mayara’s scheduled arrival followed reciprocal relationship-building moves taken by Israel in the past months. Critically, in July, Israel recognized Morocco’s sovereignty over the disputed territory of Western Sahara, over which Rabat has battled rebels.

In June, Ohana became the first head of Israel’s parliament to visit Morocco’s legislature, and a delegation of Israeli lawmakers visited the kingdom this summer as part of a broader parliamentary forum.

Ties with Morocco, normalized in 2020 under the Abraham Accords, have also seen upsets. In June, Rabat canceled its plans to host this summer’s Negev Forum in protest over Israeli settlement announcements. The gathering of foreign ministers from Israel, the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco, Egypt and the US has been postponed several times since it was first slated to be held in March, in light of rising tensions between Israelis and Palestinians and some Arab leader discomfort with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hardline government.

However, Ohana, himself the son of Jewish immigrants from Morocco, said Sunday that Mayara’s visit expresses a “hopeful reality, which teaches us about the possibilities of expanding the circles of peace in the Middle East.”

In addition to leading Morocco’s senate, Mayara is the president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean, an umbrella organization representing regional legislatures. A number of lawmakers are accompanying him on a regional visit, and will also meet with Ohana.

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