Moroccans protest Netanyahu's potential visit to Rabat

DAILY SABAH
Istanbul
Published 30.01.2019 01:04

Moroccan activists have protested Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's potential visit to Morocco in the spring.

Many on social media demanded that the government should not to allow him to visit their country, claiming it would be "a historic mistake."

The move came after news broke about a forthcoming visit by Netanyahu to Morocco in March or April to meet Moroccan King Mohammed VI in capital Rabat. The Israeli prime minister is likely to present a U.S. proposal, aimed at resolving the Western Sahara conflict.

The Moroccan Observatory against Normalization with Israel, a nongovernmental organization, said that Israel would use the conflict as a way to split the region, as reported by the Middle East Monitor.

The Moroccan government confirmed in previous statements that Rabat does not have any official political or commercial relations with Israel. Morocco's decision to allow the visit depends on U.S. willingness to support the African country in the Western Sahara conflict, according to a Jerusalem Post report.

As the latest sign of growing regional ties between Israel and the Arab and Muslim world, Netanyahu visited Chad earlier this month in order to restore diplomatic ties with a Muslim-majority country. His visit is considered to be a part of an overall policy of seeking allies among developing countries that have historically sided with the Palestinians at the U.N. and other international forums.

Most Muslim or Arab countries do not have formal ties with Israel. Israel currently has full diplomatic relations with only Egypt and Jordan. Netanyahu's move came amid his apparent bolstering of relations with the Gulf countries. Although Israel has no formal ties with any of the Gulf States, they share a mutual concern over Iran and its nuclear program. Netanyahu has launched an initiative to develop positive relations with Gulf countries, and especially with Saudi Arabia, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is also referred to as MBS, is known for his soft stance toward Israel.

As part of Israel's new Gulf policy, Netanyahu held surprise talks with Oman's Sultan Qaboos in Muscat earlier this month, the first visit of its kind for an Israeli official in 22 years. His visit was considered as an overture toward the Gulf. After Oman, his office stated last November that Netanyahu was expected to visit Bahrain without giving an exact date. However, Bahrain's Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa had denied the existence of a plan for Netanyahu to visit the Gulf kingdom.

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