Morocco's parliament forms 'Moroccan-Israeli Friendship' group
In its latest moves to strengthen normalisation with Tel Aviv, the Moroccan parliament announced the formation of a "Moroccan-Israeli friendship" group.
"The group's formation comes within the framework of the Moroccan parliament's diplomacy with all countries that have relations with the Kingdom," a parliamentary source told The New Arab, without providing further details.
The Moroccan parliament hosts over 150 friendship groups.
The announcement came a few days after the visit of Israeli Minister of Economy and Industry Nir Barkat to Morocco where he attended the agriculture festival in the city of Meknes along with Tel Aviv's newly-appointed envoy to Rabat Shai Cohen.
The House of Representatives website shows that the new body will host members from the majority ruling parties Istiqlal Party and Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM).
Also, opposition left-wing parties Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP) and Party of Progress and Socialism (PPS) have submitted members
In 2013, these parties presented two bills penalising any attempt at normalisation with Israel, with prison sentences and fines against offenders. The bills were not passed.
Most of the political parties in the country have switched to a normalisation-friendly policy since Rabat joined the Abraham Accords late in 2020.
"Abraham Accords Caucus", a similar body in the Israeli Knesset, was established in 2021.
For its part, the moderate-Islamist Party of Justice and Development (PJD) refused to join the new "friendship" body. The PJD's decision did not come as a surprise as the party has distanced itself from normalisation since its brutal loss in the 2021 elections.
It was under Saad Eddin El-Othmani, former leader of PJD and Moroccan PM at the time, that Rabat signed the normalisation deal with Tel Aviv in December 2020.
After losing the majority, El-Othmani stepped down from leadership admitting that he was under pressure to accept attending the normalisation ceremony.
On the other hand, the absence of the Prime minister's party, the National Rally of Independents (RNI), from the new "friendship body" raised many questions, since the process for many commentators was out of character for a party that's always aligned with the country's official diplomacy, even before its unprecedented victory in 2021 elections.
The party opted for the empty chair with no explanation. No official from RNI contacted by TNA was available to answer.
Nevertheless, the announcement of the body has triggered some controversy over social media, as anti-normalisation feelings remain vivid among many Moroccans even after three years of intense Israeli-friendly diplomacy.