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Morocco king says Rabat will push to renew Israeli-Palestinian peace talks

Mohammed VI says he will use Morocco’s ‘excellent relations with all sides’ to push for a return ‘to the negotiating table’

Morocco's King Mohammed VI, right, receives Aziz Akhannouch the president of the National Rally of Independents party (RNI), winner of the legislative elections at the Royal Palace in Fez, Morocco, September 10, 2021. (Moroccan Royal Palace via AP)
Morocco's King Mohammed VI, right, receives Aziz Akhannouch the president of the National Rally of Independents party (RNI), winner of the legislative elections at the Royal Palace in Fez, Morocco, September 10, 2021. (Moroccan Royal Palace via AP)

Morocco will push for the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, King Mohammed VI said on Monday, almost a year after his country renewed ties with the Jewish state.

“Morocco will continue its efforts, building on its position and its excellent relations with all sides and relevant international actors, to provide the appropriate conditions for a return to the negotiating table,” the monarch said in a televised address.

Morocco renewed official relations with Israel in December last year, two decades after it cut ties with Jerusalem at the outbreak of the Second Intifada.

In his speech, delivered on the UN-organized International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, King Mohammed stressed Morocco’s “total solidarity with the Palestinian people” and its right to an independent state alongside Israel.

He called for trust-building efforts and urged both sides “to refrain from actions that obstruct the peace process.”

The king, who heads the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s Al-Quds committee, charged with protecting Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem, also warned against any attempt to change the city’s “juridical, historic, and demographic” status.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz, right, with his Moroccan counterpart Abdellatif Loudiyi, after signing a memorandum of understanding between the two countries at the Moroccan Defense Ministry in Rabat on November 24, 2021. (Defense Ministry)

In several cities across Morocco, where public support for the Palestinian cause is high, activists held protests on Monday against the move to reestablish ties, according to footage posted on social media by Islamist opposition movement the Justice and Charity Group.

Authorities banned a planned protest in the capital Rabat.

The king’s speech came days after an unprecedented visit to Rabat by Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who signed a wide-ranging security pact with the kingdom.

Moroccan opposition groups and Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas condemned the move. The Fatah movement of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called it “a stab in Jerusalem’s back.”

“I think the ties between Morocco and Israel need to continue to get closer, to continue to develop and expand, and I am glad that we have a part to play in that,” Gantz said, after the signing.

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