Islamists maintain the pressure over Morocco’s relations with Israel

Morocco

Published on Tuesday, 21 November 2023 Back to articles

Rabat demonstration in support of the Palestinians in Gaza – 15 October 2023

As Israel’s war in Gaza drags on, Moroccans continue to take to the streets to express their solidarity with the Palestinians. Rallies are taking place in different towns on an almost daily basis, with protestors also condemning Western countries that are supporting Israel, and demanding an end to Morocco’s normalisation of relations with Israel. There was a major protest in Rabat on 18 November, as well as smaller protests organised by student groups across the main cities and towns. 

Leftist and secular pro-Palestinian groups remain deeply engaged in organising and participating in these protests and the horrors of the Gaza crisis are felt deeply across Morocco. It is, however, the Islamists that are proving to be a major presence in the demonstrations. The different Islamist parties and movements — including the Parti de la justice et du développement (PJD), its dawa (preaching) arm, Tawhid wal Islah, and al-Adl Wa Al Ihssane — which are far better organised than the more fractured leftist and nationalist groups, are providing a critical mass for these protests. With the government coalition parties, as well as some opposition parties, choosing not to mobilise or throw their weight behind the protests, these demonstrations are providing an opportunity for the Islamist parties to try and bolster their standing. This is particularly important for the PJD, which needs to claw back some of the legitimacy it lost during its time in power, especially given that it was the PJD-led government that signed up to the normalisation deal with Israel and the US in December 2020. 

The PJD’s leader, Abdelilah Benkirane, has certainly been vocal in his condemnation of Israel and Rabat’s ongoing relationship with it. The party’s general secretariat issued a statement following its meeting on 11 November, which demanded the ‘severance of all relations, communication and normalisation with the occupying Zionist entity.’ It reiterated its demand for the closure of the Israeli liaison office in Rabat and the official expulsion of all of its representatives. The statement also reiterated its support for Hamas and described the Al-Aqsa Flood operation of 7 October as a ‘natural and legitimate response to the policy of the Zionist occupation.’

Despite this, the statement was careful to mix its condemnation of the normalisation policy with praise for the King. It stressed its appreciation for King Mohamed VI’s speech to the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation and the Arab League in November in which he condemned Israeli’s aggression against civilians. Meanwhile the PJD’s parliamentary bloc demanded the dissolution of the Israeli-Moroccan parliamentary friendship group.

This excerpt is taken from Morocco Focus, our monthly intelligence report on Morocco. Click here to receive a free sample copy.

The November 2023 issue of Morocco Focus also includes the following:

Western Sahara

  • Explosions in Moroccan-controlled Western Sahara provoke tensions…
  • Implications

Politics

  • Teacher strikes spell major trouble for Benmoussa…
  • Islamists maintain the pressure over relations with Israel

Security

  • Morocco frees 22 more de-radicalised prisoners…

Economy

  • Dynamic new wali is appointed for Casablanca-Settat…
  • Difficulties for the mining sector
  • Incentivising investment in the military sector

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