Moroccan leftists, Islamists unite against Israel normalisation on Nakba Day

Moroccan leftists, Islamists unite against Israel normalisation on Nakba Day
In a rare scene, Moroccan leftist and Islamist leaders stood shoulder to shoulder, wrapped in keffiyehs, while chanting against the Moroccan-Israeli normalisation.
3 min read
16 May, 2022
"Today, Moroccans are here to say that they are against the normalisation with Israel in all its forms," said the head of Morocco's Unified Socialist Party (Getty)

Across Morocco, hundreds of citizens took to the streets on Sunday to commemorate the 74th anniversary of Nakba Day, voicing once again their anti-normalisation position.

In the capital Rabat, a myriad of political factions gathered in front of the Moroccan parliament, where the presence of security forces significantly increased ahead of the sit-in.

In a rare scene, Moroccan leftist and Islamist leaders stood abreast, wrapped in keffiyehs, chanting against the Moroccan-Israeli normalisation and calling for the right of Palestinians to return to their homeland from which they were expelled ahead of Israel state's creation in 1948.

“Today, Moroccans are here to say that they are against the normalisation with Israel in all its forms (...) despite the deal of shame [the Abraham accords that Morocco signed] with Israel that aims to isolate the Palestinian people,” Nabila Mounib, the head of the Unified Socialist Party (PSU), told The New Arab.

Morocco was the fourth Arab country to normalise ties with Israel in 2020 under US auspices. 

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Despite the absence of Abdelilah Benkirane, the head of the justice and development party, members of the Islamist party participated widely in the sit-in, following the party’s call on its supporters to join the commemoration of Nakba Day.

Ahead of the sit-in, the former Prime Minister Benkirane paid tribute to Shireen Abu Akleh, a Palestinian journalist, who was killed by Israeli forces last week while covering an Israeli security raid in the occupied West Bank. 

"She [Abu Akleh] is one of the nation's heroes. I grieved deeply for her (...). I congratulate her. She was a brave and an honest fighter," wrote Benkirane on the official Facebook page of the PJD.

Abu Akleh was wearing a press vest and a helmet when she was shot dead by Israeli forces who later brutally attacked her funeral. Across Morocco in Rabat, Tangier and Marrakech, where protesters considered her assassination yet another proof of Israel’s tyranny, her legacy was vividly present at Nakba Day commemorations.

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Since its tragic loss in the September 8 elections last year, Morocco's Justice and Development Party (PJD) revived its pro-Palestine policy in an attempt to reconcile with supporters who lost faith in the Islamist party after its involvement in the normalisation deal with Tel Aviv.

At the time, Morocco’s PM and head of the PJD, Saad Eddin El Otmani met in December 2020 with the Israeli and American diplomats in Rabat’s palace and officially announced the establishment of ties with Israel. 

The move to normalise with Tel Aviv exacerbated conflicts within the party and PJD lost the majority in last year's elections with only 13 seats, after a decade in power.

Some observers linked the party's defeat to its inconsistency on the question of relations with Israel.

Following the party's stark defeat, Benkirane was called back to the leadership of the Islamist PJD.

On Workers’ day celebrations this year, Benkirane labelled Morocco’s normalisation with Israel as a “mistake” in his first open condemnation of the controversial deal.