Mahmoud Abbas you have nothing to say to us

I along with the world have realized that during the week that saw Morocco and Israel restore bilateral ties to advance diplomacy; President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority has remained surprisingly silent. After the Palestinian Authority blasted the UAE, Bahrain, and Sudan for making diplomatic advancements with Israel, the silence is ever more noticeable; if anything, it was expected and calculated. My initial thoughts are that condemnations were inevitable, until this point, I have not heard anything I noticed that the Palestinian Authority has gone after its local media proxies and ensured minimal coverage on the matter would be allowed. This is a surprise to most but considering the context around Israel and Morocco but also the Moroccan ties to Palestine, it certainly seems understandable. Morocco; starting with King Mohamed the sixth, has always been strong supporters of a campaign for a Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

On Thursday, December 10th, United States President Donald Trump announced that the Kingdom of Morocco and Israel have agreed to establish full diplomatic ties as soon as possible, this marking the fourth diplomatic advancement between Israel and Arab league member nations in half a year. It is well known that after the Oslo Accords; Morocco and Israel exchanged Liaison offices until they were forced to close in 2000 during the rising tension because of the Second Intifada. Even before the reign of King Mohamed the sixth, his father King Hassan the second was a known ally of Israel as well as the domestic Jewish Moroccan population at the time. Morocco and Israel maintain collaboration on three key areas; diplomacy, intelligence, and emigration. November of 1961 marked a year of collaboration between Morocco and Israel’s main external intelligence agency, Mossad during the Yachin project that migrated 97,000 Moroccan Jews. What might surprise most people is the number of positive reactions domestically and regionally to Morocco’s decision to re-normalize relations with Israel, the bar would always be set low but progress is undertaking. There are just so many factors to unpack and that will continue to appear in the coming weeks and months however one thing clear, that Morocco’s relationship with Israel is unique to any other Arab league nation, including the ones who have already signed into the Abraham Accords.

King Hassan II of Morocco, right, confers with Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin of Israel, second from left, and Israel’s foreign minister, Shimon Peres, left, in Rabat, Morocco, in 1993. (Credit Nati Harnik/Associated Press)

It is known that Ramallah typically screams at normalization as it wishes to hold as many neighboring Arab states hostage, however, the time has told that it has only fed into the complacency of keeping the Palestinian Authority away from the negotiation table. When Arab states break ranks to advance peace on their terms and interests is when tensions are known to boil starting earlier this year in August with the United Arab Emirates and Israel. The UAE was the first but not last, Bahrain, Sudan, Morocco have all followed with the potential of other countries following through. No longer is the Palestinian Authority in control of the foreign policy regarding their neighbors, Israel, this reality has expired, and they will have to shift their approach accordingly. Nearly a decade and a half of the same party, president and politics have made both people frustrated regional governments confident that nothing would change without a new approach. The new approach means that Israel can make peace with its neighbors and expand its diplomacy mission under the current political status quo. I believe that Ramallah has nothing to scream about Morocco has its second-largest diaspora in Israel, has put aside its differences decades ago, and has been known to preserve under the table relations there is nothing worth risking losing further support from regional governments, especially the King of Morocco.

Morocco’s King Mohammed VI, right, meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, left, on Sept. 22, 2010, in New York. (AP/Royal Palace/HO/Moroccan Royal Palace)

I say that if anyone had the opportunity to scream at a leader regarding the Israel-Morocco diplomatic breakthrough it would be the Moroccan people, starting with the nationalists who deem their country’s interest keen on its ability to aid anything else. When the Palestinian authority sent their Ambassador to Algeria, Amin Maqboul who pledge support for Algeria’s campaign in Western Sahara. The public support for Algeria in the Western Sahara conflict means is support for the local Sahrawi Militia group, Polisario, Morocco’s main enemy in the region that has constantly attempted to cut mainland Morocco from the rest of Africa. The tradition for Palestinian foreign policy within the Arab league is it does not interfere with the affairs of its “brotherly Arab neighbors”, however clearly this commitment was shattered and many Moroccans caught light of it. Not only did Morocco, but a country with significant support for the Palestinian cause at every level also did not aid Morocco unlike Israel has, it went the opposite direction. Digest that for a moment, a government whose main role is to govern a difficult political status quo in the disputed West Bank territories that’s the ultimate goal is to reach peace in its 72-year conflict with Israel would have the audacity to severe political support and preach support for one side in a completely different conflict. The priorities are misplaced once again; this has only helped Morocco’s domestic case to support normalization with Israel. When Israel supports Moroccan interest in Western Sahara, Palestinian Authority threatens Moroccan sovereignty, recognition of Israel offers American recognition of Western Sahara as Moroccan and all the other additions, this allows for the unconditional, irrational political support for the Palestinian government to drown in the minds of the Moroccan people.

The way I see it, my people and I have long held support and will continue to support the Palestinian people, however, clearly, the governments of Morocco and Palestine are not on the same frontiers. I also strongly believe that normalization with Israel especially given our deep-rooted history not only does not threaten the Palestinian advantage but also may increase when it comes to the bilateral beneficial outcomes of the Moroccan-Israeli relationship. Truth be told, governments sign treaties, people form connections, and the connections between Moroccan’s and Israelis is something so valuable, that such a political status quo that regresses Morocco should have been dropped years ago, however, a few days ago will do.

About the Author
Walid Tamtam was born in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada, growing up hailing from a Moroccan background in schools, mosques, and other familiar social environments, anti-semitism seemed to be acceptable if not encouraged. Since two years ago Walid, broke out of his echo chambers to tell the full story and break down the polarization of these communities and act as a bridge to bring people together.
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