Top Morocco senator Enaam Mayara to make controversial visit to Israeli Knesset
Enaam Mayara, President of the Moroccan House of Councillors, the upper house of the Parliament of Morocco, and head of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean (PAM), will make an official visit to Israel on Thursday, where he is due to meet top Knesset lawmakers including the speaker.
Mayara, leading a PAM delegation, is the first prominent Moroccan official to visit Israel since the controversial resumption of diplomatic relations under the 2020 US-brokered Abraham Accords, and one of the top Arab legislators to ever engage directly with the Israeli parliament.
Mayara was formally invited by Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana when he visited Morocco in June. Ohana said the trip represents 'a precedent-setting visit that attests to the new era that has been created in Israel-Morocco relations,' according to the Times of Israel.
Ohana is of Moroccan Jewish descent. The reception of the delegation will include raising the Moroccan flag and playing the national anthem in the Israeli Parliament for the first time in Israel's history.
אהלן וסהלן 🇮🇱🇲🇦 أهلًا وسهلًا pic.twitter.com/Y7DVSaOJgS— Amir Ohana - אמיר אוחנה (@AmirOhana) September 3, 2023
Before heading to Israel, the delegation on Sunday met with Jordanian Senate President Faisal Al Fayez in Amman and Palestinian officials on Tuesday in the West Bank. The meetings focused on discussing security challenges, economic concerns, and political conflicts affecting the Arab world.
Mayara’s visit follows reciprocal moves taken by Israel in the past months to normalise relations with Morocco and other Arab countries. In June, Ohana made a Knesset speaker’s first to Morocco’s parliament, and a delegation of Israeli lawmakers visited the Kingdom this summer, as part of a broader parliamentary forum.
The upcoming visit, and the broader normalisation of relations with Israel are opposed by broad segments of Moroccan and Arab public opinion who remain supportive of Palestinian rights. As recently as December, Moroccans protested in 30 different cities chanting "The people want to bring down normalisation"
Concerns have also been raised regarding defence collaboration between the two nations. Earlier this year, the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces said they wanted to enhance cooperation with Israel, including in areas like intelligence, air defense, and electronic warfare. Many of Israel's weapons are first tested on Palestinians before being sold to other nations, according to human rights groups.
Morocco's government agreed to normalise relations with Israel during the presidency of Donald Trump, in return for US and Israeli recognition of its sovereignty over the disputed Western Sahara, and a number of economic, security and political pledges.
The two countries normalised ties in 2020, with similar agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Sudan.