Dozens of Moroccan activists took to the streets of Rabat on Wednesday, protesting the arrival of Amir Ohana, the Speaker of the Israeli Knesset, to the Moroccan capital. The protestors raised slogans opposing his visit and denouncing the normalization of relations between the two countries.
The protestors, comprising civil society activists and human rights advocates, chanted phrases such as “No normalization with the occupier, resistance is the solution”, “Rabat and Palestine are one people, not two”, and “Morocco is free land, Ohana get out”. They also burned the Israeli flag, chanting “Crush, crush underfoot Zionism and the Americans”.
Morocco had normalized relations with Israel on December 10, 2020, brokered by the United States, in exchange for recognition of Rabat’s sovereignty over the disputed Western Sahara region, contested between Morocco and the Polisario Front since 1976.
The visit of the Knesset Speaker comes at a time when the Israeli government is considering a potential declaration recognizing Moroccan sovereignty over the Western Sahara region.
Aziz Hanawi, a member of the Moroccan Initiative for Support and Victory affiliated with the Unification and Reform Movement, the advocacy wing of the moderate Islamic Justice and Development Party, told Reuters: “Today, this popular stand was hastily organized against this ominous visit by the Zionist Knesset Speaker. It is the first visit of its kind in the history of the conflict with the Zionist enemy.”
He added, “We reject, through this stand, that normalization is passed through the Moroccan Sahara issue. What has happened over the past two and a half years is passing normalization through the Moroccan Sahara, and trying to whitewash normalization with the Sahara issue by jumping over the Palestinian issue and overcoming all its constants.”
Upon normalizing relations with Israel, Moroccan King Mohammed VI had made a phone call to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, assuring him that “Morocco always places the Palestinian issue on par with the issue of Moroccan Sahara”, which he considers an integral part of his territory. He added that “Morocco’s efforts to consolidate its Moroccan identity will never be, neither today nor in the future, at the expense of the Palestinian people’s struggle for their legitimate rights.”