Hamas chief meets top politicians in Morocco after Israel's Gaza offensive

Reuters , Thursday 17 Jun 2021

With parliamentary elections in September, Moroccan political parties want to show their support for Palestinians

Ismail Haniyeh
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh attends a meeting with foreign reporters at al-Mat'haf hotel in Gaza City, June 20, 2019 AP

Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh met the speakers of Morocco's parliament and opposition politicians on Thursday during a visit to build support for the Palestinian cause after the North African nation upgraded diplomatic relations with Israel.

Haniyeh, who arrived in Morocco on Wednesday for a four-day trip, has already met the Islamist PJD, the biggest party in Morocco's governing coalition.

Morocco agreed in December to improve relations with Israel in a deal with the United States that included U.S. recognition of Rabat's sovereignty over Western Sahara, a region that the Algeria-backed Polisario Front wants to become an independent state.

Hamas is the Islamist group ruling Gaza Strip, which Israel bombarded for 11 days in May.

Haniyeh's visit is a bid to seek broader support for Palestinians after Israel's campaign on Gaza. 

In Morocco, the visit is seen as a way to show Rabat still backs Palestinians despite more friendly relations with Israel.

Haniyeh met the speakers from the two chambers of Morocco's parliament and a delegation from PAM, the biggest opposition party in parliament. He is also due to meet other politicians.

King Mohammed VI, the highest authority in Morocco, has congratulated Israel's new Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.

The king also backs a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital.

With parliamentary elections in September, Moroccan political parties want to show their support for Palestinians.

Moroccan Prime Minister Saad Dine El Otmani held a reception for Haniyeh on Wednesday in his capacity as PJD leader. He said the king promised efforts to entrench sovereignty over Western Sahara would not be "at the expense of the Palestinian people".

Winning international recognition for its sovereignty over Western Sahara is Morocco's main foreign policy goal.

*This story was edited by Ahram Online. 

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