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Dozens of prominent Moroccans call on government to sever ties with Israel

The call comes amid an intensified Israeli crackdown on Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem
Moroccans wave the Palestinian flag outside the parliament building in Rabat as they protest against their country's normalisation of ties with Israel, 24 December 2022 (AFP)

Dozens of human rights activists, academics, political and cultural figures in Morocco have called for their government to annul the country's normalisation deal with Israel and sever diplomatic ties.

Israel and Morocco signed a US-sponsored deal in December 2020 to normalise ties, exchange ambassadors, and have subsequently agreed on several military, education and economic pacts.

On Friday, more than 100 Moroccan figures in academia, human rights groups and wider society called in a petition for an end to these pacts, as Israel presses ahead with its policies against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

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They condemned Israel's "military occupation of Palestine" and demanded "the severance of any relationship with the Israeli government and any relationship with the apartheid regime that occupies Palestine".

The number of Palestinians killed by Israelis so far this year rose on Thursday to at least 87, including 16 children. It's the bloodiest start to a year since 2000, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

Palestinians have killed at least 13 Israelis this year.

In recent months, Israeli forces have increased their raids on the Palestinian towns of Jenin and Nablus, north of the occupied West Bank, to arrest or kill Palestinians who participated in armed resistance against the occupation.

The signatories said that Rabat severing ties with Israel would put the country "on the side of justice and international legitimacy" and reflect "the deep aspirations of Moroccans and their historical attachment to the cause of the liberation of Palestine".

They said that in light of "the deteriorating situation of the Palestinian cause, and the positions that call for the annihilation of the Arabs, the demolition of Al-Aqsa Mosque, and the extremism of the Israeli government" Morocco should cut its ties with Israel.

Some members of the current far-right government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have encouraged settlers to storm the Al-Aqsa compound, offending Palestinians and Muslims, and stirred their followers to shout "Death to Arabs" in mass marches.

Israeli citizens of Moroccan descent comprise the second largest Jewish community in Israel, after ex-Soviets, with an estimated population of 472,800 in a 2019 census.

The two countries initially normalised ties in 1994, but these were cut in 2000 following the Second Intifada.

Among the names of the signatories were Khadija Ryadi, a human rights defender and winner of the United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights 2013; Mohamed Bensaid Ait Idder, a veteran politician who fought against French colonialism; Mustafa al-Moatasem, a member of the NGO group National Action Group to Support Palestine; Nabila Mounib, an academic and secretary general of the Unified Socialist Party, and Farida Benlyazid, a novelist and film director.

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