Palestine and the Sahara, two challenges for the new Israeli government

The positive momentum of Israeli-Moroccan relations cannot be taken for granted in light of the challenges facing these relations, says an Israeli research center interested in relations between the two countries after two years of the Abraham Accords. . According to observers, the strengthening of ties should go through a clearer recognition of the Moroccan Sahara and an understanding of Morocco’s position vis-à-vis the Palestinian cause.

This is how the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) of the University of Tel Aviv indicates that the new Israeli government will have before it several steps to take to honor Morocco’s efforts vis-à-vis Israel, the defense and the preservation of its Moroccan Jewish community.

Noting Morocco’s activity for the preservation of Jewish culture and heritage, as well as an abiding attachment of Moroccans to the Palestinian cause, the research institute has given avenues for the new government led by Benjamin Netanyahu to fill the gaps and ensure that we continue to improve bilateral relations.

“Morocco’s positive attitude towards its Jewish heritage is rooted in a broader perception of the country’s national identity and its engagement with Moroccan diasporas. Morocco’s ancient Jewish community generally maintained good relations with the Muslim majority, and Moroccan monarchs consistently demonstrated tolerance and acceptance of its Jewish population,” the contributors note.

The authors recall the strong commitment of Moroccan monarchs over the generations, citing the late Hassan II, who repeatedly declared that the Jews are an inseparable part of Morocco, having arrived there even before Islam or the famous phrase of his father, the late Mohammed V who said: “The Jews are my children, like all Moroccans”.

The INSS notes that the kingdom embraces its Jewish heritage for a range of reasons, historical and contemporary economic and others, which attest to its pluralistic image, adding that Israeli-Moroccan relations are also influenced by the religious role of King Mohammed VI and “its commitment to advancing a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”.

Thus, to foster encouraging trends in relations with Morocco, “the new Israeli government should capitalize on the countries’ common heritage and cultural affinities as a lever to strengthen dialogue and cooperation, recognize the complex position of the King of Morocco vis-à-vis -à-vis the Israeli-Palestinian political process and Jerusalem and examine ways to better relate to the discourse of religious and cultural tolerance of the monarchy”, summarizes the INSS.

At the level of Palestine, the authors believe that the Israeli government must take into account the position of King Mohammed VI, explaining that “the monarchy’s commitment to the Palestinians as well as to the rights of Muslims in Jerusalem, reflects a widespread feeling in Morocco, and throughout the Arab and Muslim world more broadly” and that he managed to create a “successful balance” between Jewish heritage, Israeli-Moroccan ties and the “clear” position towards the Palestinians.

They thus believe that “the escalation of the conflict, and the perceived threats against East Jerusalem and its Muslim holy sites in particular, could have a detrimental effect – as history has shown” on relations with Morocco and advise the Israeli government “to avoid inflaming religious tensions in Jerusalem”.

According to the Israeli research center, the Sahara file is another subject on which the Israeli government could use to deepen relations with Morocco, believing that the kingdom has highlighted the importance of the support of its partners.

The authors claim that this dossier could “hinder relations” if Israel does not move forward, explaining that it is “a key issue in Moroccan external relations and where it expects clear support from its allies, including Israel”.

The new Israeli government, the publication continues, will therefore have to invest with caution to maintain the current pace of normalization, despite the tripartite declaration between Morocco, Israel and the United States in 2020 where the recognition of the Moroccanness of the Sahara was clearly enunciated.

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