Morocco's Islamist PM who signed Israel normalisation deal rejects accusations of betraying Palestinians

Morocco's Islamist PM who signed Israel normalisation deal rejects accusations of betraying Palestinians
Saad Eddine El Othmani has said that he still supports the rights of the Palestinian people and that the decision to normalise was not his.
2 min read
08 January, 2021
Saad Eddine El Othmani had previously refused any normalisation with Israel [Getty]
Morocco's prime minister has pushed back against critics, who have accused him of betraying the Palestinian cause by signing a normalisation agreement with the US and Israel on 22 December.

During a meeting with his Justice and Development Party, PM Saad Eddine El Othmani said that he understands the criticism but rejects anyone who questions the position of his party in relation to the cause of the Palestinian people.

"I am surprised by those who attack the party, accusing it of changing its position. We reject the attacks and any questioning of the party's position and Morocco's position regarding the struggle of the Palestinian people," he said.

Othmani said that the decision to sign the normalisation agreement was not his decision, but that of the king, and that it is he who makes foreign policy decisions.

"As head of the government, I have responsibilities. What I did was as head of the Moroccan government…the second personality of the State cannot contradict the first personality of the State," Othmani said.

Going on to say, that he still rejects the violations of Palestinian rights committed by Israel and the settlement activities. He added that he continues to support the demands of the Palestinians to return to their homes. 

The decision to normalise relations with Israel directly contradicts previous statements made by the leader of the Islamist party.

"We refuse any normalisation with the Zionist entity because this emboldens it to go further in breaching the rights of the Palestinian people," Othmani was quoted as saying by Reuters on 23 August of last year.

Read more: Normalisation with Israel: The view from the Arab Maghreb countries

The decision to normalise relations with Israel has proven to be highly contentious.

Last month, lawyer and general coordinator of the Islamic National Conference Khaled al-Sufyani filed a legal appeal against Rabat's decision. Sufyani filed his petition with the Court of Cassation, the highest court in Morocco.

The lawsuit sought to: "Cancel all decisions taken by the authorities as part of its agreement with the Zionist entity, as they are in violation of the Moroccan public order, the provisions of the constitution, the United Nations Charter, the Vienna Convention, the international humanitarian law and the international legitimacy for human rights."

Following the Oslo Accords in 1993, Morocco and Israel began low-level ties, but these were suspended in 2000 after a Palestinian uprising.

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