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Facing criticism from Islamist opposition party, Moroccan royal court defends relations with Israel

Moroccan King Mohammed VI (Photo: Moroccan Foreign Ministry)

Amid recent criticism from within the Moroccan government, the Moroccan Royal Palace defended its relationship with the State of Israel.

The criticism came from Morocco’s Justice and Development Party (PJD), an Islamist political party which currently holds 13 out of 395 seats in the Moroccan House of Representatives.

"The general secretariat condemns the recent stand by the foreign minister in which he appears to be defending the zionist a time the Israeli occupation continues its criminal aggression against our Palestinian brothers," the PJD said in a statement released last week.

The PJD’s statement was in response to an announcement made earlier this month by Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita. In a recent press conference, Bourita announced that Morocco, Israel and the European Union would be working together on a water management project.

After receiving criticism from the PJD, the Royal Palace publicly defended its ties to Israel. While referring to Israeli settlements as “occupied Palestinian territories,” the Moroccan Royal Palace criticized the PJD’s “excessive views.”

“The General Secretariat of the Justice and Development Party (PJD) recently issued a statement containing irresponsible excessive views and dangerous approximations concerning the relations between the Kingdom of Morocco and the State of Israel, against the background of the latest developments in the occupied Palestinian territories,” the Royal Palace said in a statement. “The Kingdom’s international relations cannot be the subject of blackmail by anyone or for any consideration.”

The Moroccan Royal Palace statement reflects the growing cooperation between the two nations since the countries established diplomatic relations as a part of the Abraham Accords in 2020.

Morocco received three advanced Israeli-produced HERON reconnaissance UAVs in early 2020 in a deal reportedly amounting to $48 million.

By November 2021, Israel Defense Minister, Benny Gantz made his first visit to Morocco to sign a historic defense agreement allowing for intelligence-sharing and joint exercises. That same month, Morocco purchased Israel's Skylock Dome System to strengthen its defensive capabilities in detecting and neutralizing hostile drones. The friendly Arab nation reportedly wanted to buy Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system as well.

In July 2022, then-IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi made his first-ever visit to the Moroccan capital of Rabat to discuss how to further strengthen defense ties. A few months later in September 2022, a top general in the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces, visited Israel to attend a multinational defense conference and meet with Kochavi.

In January 2023, an Israeli delegation met in the UAE to prepare for the second multilateral Negev Forum that is expected to be held in Morocco in the spring, where defense cooperation was among the topics discussed. This upcoming forum is a follow-up to the Negev summit, hosted in Israel by then Foreign Minister Yair Lapid in March 2022, when foreign ministers of the UAE, Morocco, Egypt and Bahrain met to discuss cooperation in the areas of defense, intelligence, economy, tourism, energy, agriculture and health. 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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