Moroccans protest against Israel normalisation on Land Day
Hundreds of Moroccans took to the streets on Wednesday in 30 cities around the kingdom to condemn the two-year-long normalisation between Rabat and Tel Aviv.
The protests coincided with Land Day, an annual commemoration of the killings of six unarmed Palestinians on March 30, 1976 by Israeli forces during protests against Israeli land grabs.
"The protests that took place in 38 Moroccan cities on Wednesday are a reminder that Moroccans will continue their struggle to overthrow normalisation with the occupying state, because normalisation is a danger to our country,” Al Tayeb Madmadh, a member of the Moroccan Front in Support of Palestine and Against Normalisation, told The New Arab.
In the capital Rabat, protesters staged a sit-in in front of the parliament, where policemen in riot gear surrounded the demonstrators.
The sit-in was attended by protesters from various political backgrounds, including secular leftists and youth from Morocco’s largest Islamist association, the Justice and Charity Group, which is officially banned by the Moroccan monarchy.
“Colonisation is terrorism, infiltrators of the Negev,” chanted the protesters. The sit-in took place four days after the Moroccan foreign minister’s participation in the controversial Negev Summit in Israel, where he met with his Israeli counterpart.
Israel has recently stepped up settlement activity in the Negev region, arresting dozens of Palestinian Bedouin and demolishing their homes.
As the sun set, protestors set fire to the Israeli flag, chanting: “Palestine resists and the regimes bargain,” and “No normalisation, no surrender of the resistance forward."
Just a few metres away from the protest, the Mohammed VI Theatre was hosting a musical performance by Israeli and Moroccan artists. The Moroccan and Israeli governments have said that they want to normalise cultural relations.
The musical's time and place outraged the pro-Palestine protesters, who were aiming to take the demonstration to the theatre's front door. However, police had a heavy presence nearby which prevented this.
Last year, Moroccan authorities banned Land Day protests, just months after Rabat normalised ties with Tel Aviv in a deal brokered by the US. In return, the US agreed to recognise Morocco's sovereignty over the disputed territory of Western Sahara.
Morocco touted the deal as a "bold diplomatic move" to gain international recognition of Rabat's "historical right" over the territory. The pro-independence Polisario movement, which is backed by Algeria has contested Morocco's sovereignty over Western Sahara for decades.
Some pro-Palestinian Moroccan movements have grudgingly accepted the state's justifications for normalisation, including the Islamist Justice and Development party (PJD).
The party's previous leader, Saad Eddine El Othmani, who was Morocco's prime minister until 2021 personally attended the signing ceremony of the Abraham Accords