Moroccan authorities and security forces used heavy force to disperse a protest march in capital Rabat on December 14, Monday, organized to oppose the recent announcement of normalization of ties between Morocco and Israel. The leaders of the protest were detained briefly and the protesters were forcefully dispersed, Reuters reported.
The two leaders who were detained were Sion Assidon, Moroccan coordinator of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, and lawyer Abderrehman Ben Amrou.
The authorities cited COVID-19 guidelines for not allowing the protests. However, activists alleged that the government had allowed a pro-government and pro-deal gathering at the same venue on Sunday.
Following in the footsteps of the UAE, Bahrain and Sudan, Moroccan king Mohammed VI announced a deal with the US last week, according to which Morocco will “normalize” its ties with Israel in return for US recognition of its sovereignty over the occupied Western Sahara. The US has also agreed to open its council in Dakhla, the second largest city in the Sahara.
The deal has been opposed by the Palestinians, who see it as a betrayal of the Palestinian cause and the long-held principle of maintaining no ties with Israel without the solution of the Palestinian issue. This principle was adopted by the Arab countries in an Arab League conference in 2002.
Several Moroccans have also expressed their opposition to the deal with Israel. On Monday, Morocco’s labor minister Mohamed Amekraz said in an interview to a TV channel that “Moroccans were surprised by the decision to normalize the ties with Israel” as Moroccans see the Palestinian cause as a question of “injustice and usurpation of land and rights of legitimate owners,” Moroccan World News reported. The minister, however, supported the American recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara.
The deal is also opposed by the Polisario Front, which rules a part of Western Sahara and is fighting for the independence of the rest of the territory from Moroccan occupation.