| 26 February 2024, Monday |

Hamas Chief meets party leaders in Morocco visit

Despite Morocco’s recent diplomatic agreement with Israel, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh will meet with the country’s largest opposition party on Thursday as part of mission to drum up support for the Palestinian cause.
Haniyeh came in Morocco on Wednesday and met with the Islamist PJD, the ruling coalition’s largest party, as well as numerous other major parties during his four-day stay.
He will meet with PAM and Istiqlal, two of the largest opposition groups, on Thursday, and will meet with other parties before leaving on Sunday.

The trip comes after King Mohammed VI in December agreed to improve Moroccan relations with Israel as part of a deal with the United States that also included American recognition of Rabat’s sovereignty over Western Sahara.

In Morocco, the visit is seen as a way to balance ties with Israel and the Palestinians, and to demonstrate that despite its more friendly relations with Israel, Rabat still supports Palestinian independence hopes.

On Tuesday, King Mohammed congratulated the new Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on forming a government. The king, who holds ultimate power in Morocco, backs a two-state solution with East Jerusalem as Palestinian capital.

With parliamentary elections looming in September, Moroccan political parties are also seeking to show support for Palestinian rights after protests last month against the warmer ties with Israel.

After Hamas sharply criticised Morocco for the deal with the U.S. and Israel, Haniyeh’s visit underscores an effort to lobby for wider support following last month’s Gaza conflict.

In his capacity as PJD leader, Moroccan Prime Minister Saad Dine El Otmani hosted reception for Haniyeh on Wednesday that included Palestinian flags and music.
King Mohammed had promised, according to Otmani, that Moroccan efforts to consolidate sovereignty over Western Sahara would not be “at the expense of the Palestinian people.”
Morocco’s overarching foreign policy goal is to gain international recognition for its sovereignty over Western Sahara, where the Algeria-backed Polisario Front movement has been demanding independence for decades.

  • Reuters