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No peace for Palestinians without statehood: Moroccan PM

Prime Minister Saadeddine Othmani adressing the UN's General Assembly last year [AFP]

Date of publication: 27 September, 2020

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Saadeddine Othmani's comments come a month after his country rejected moves to follow Bahrain and the UAE in signing diplomatic pacts to normalise ties with Israel.
Morocco's Prime Minister has told the 75th UN General Assembly that a "just and lasting peace" is only possible for Palestinians if they are given their independent state with Jerusalem as its capital, The New Arab’s Arabic-language site reported.

In a pre-recorded address delivered on Saturday at the UN headquarters in New York, Saadeddine Othmani said Morocco decried Israel's "unilateral" actions in the occupied Palestinian territories, referring to the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which increased "tension" and "instability" in the region.

He added that failures to negotiate a settlement to the Palestine issue as well as fruitless attempts to restart the Middle East peace process remained a "grave concern" for his country.

The premier invoked the country's monarch, who serves as the president of the Al-Quds committee, created by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to protect Jerusalem's religious, cultural and architectural heritage.

He stressed that King Mohammed VI's vision for the holy city was that of "home" for the values of "dialogue and mutual respect", as affirmed in the Jerusalem declaration signed jointly with Pope Francis in the Moroccan capital last year.

Prime Minister Othmani's comments come a month after his country rejected moves to follow Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates in signing diplomatic pacts to normalise ties with Israel, despite Rabat enjoying quiet relations with the Jewish State.

A fortnight ago, dozens of protesters ignored coronavirus restrictions to rally outside the Moroccan parliament to denounce the US-brokered deals, which they labelled as "treason".

Read more: Moroccans protest Arab nations normalising ties with Israel

In his statement, the premier also reaffirmed Morocco's support for Inter-Libyan talks. He said Morocco was committed to providing a neutral platform which could bring country's rival administrations to the negotiating table, while condemning foreign involvement in the country’s, whose crisis continued to "deteriorate".

In early September, Morocco hosted negotiations dubbed the "Libyan Dialogue" in the coastal town of Bouznika, south of the capital. In 2015, Morocco hosted talks that led to creation of Libya's UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA)

The Prime Minister also discussed the Western Sahara in his address, restating Rabat's vowed sovereignty over the disputed territory.

In 1976, the Polisario front declared it the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), following the withdrawal of Spanish colonialists.

The indigenous Sahrawi activists fought a war with Morocco over the proclaimed state, which began in 1975 and ended in 1991 after UN-brokered ceasefire.

While the movement demands a referendum on independence for the former Spanish colony, Morocco flatly rejects this and instead offers autonomy.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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