Morocco: Hundreds protest Israeli flag at UN climate talks
Hundreds demonstrated in the Moroccan capital on Wednesday against the Israeli flag being raised next to flags of another 195 countries at UN climate talks in the central city of Marrakesh.
More than 200 people protested outside parliament in Rabat against the flag being hoisted at the COP22 conference that opened on Monday.
"The Israeli flag at COP22 means Morocco symbolically recognising the state of Israel. It's unacceptable," one protester told AFP.
Several pro-Palestinian associations took part in the protest after calling on authorities to take action about the flag earlier this week.
On Tuesday, the National Working Group for Palestine said in a statement that it was "opposed to all forms of normalisation [of relations] with Israel under any pretext whatsoever".
Another NGO, the Moroccan association for supporting the nation's causes, said in a press release that raising the Israeli flag in Morocco was the latest in a series of recent steps towards normalisation, a claim denied by the Moroccan government.
"The climate change conference is a multilateral meeting that includes many United Nations member states, and Israel is one of them," Moroccan Foreign Minister Salaheddine Mezouar told reporters on Tuesday.
Mezouar was responding to accusations of normalisation after an Israeli delegation took part in the conference.
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He argued that Morocco had to comply with the UN rules that require the host country to receive all guests of the member states, adding that Palestine was also present at the event.
"Morocco was one of the first countries to support Palestine's right to an independent state and to become an observing member of the United Nations," he said.
"No one can bid against the kingdom's efforts to defend the legitimate rights of the Palestinian state," he added.
"Morocco is not willing to be lectured by anyone."
The Moroccan Coalition for Human Rights Organisations described the raising of the Israeli flag on Moroccan soil as "highly provocative" and "flagrant normalisation".
"Hosting representatives of the Zionist entity in Morocco and raising its flag on our soil contradicts universal human rights values and principles," the coalition said in a statement obtained by The New Arab.
"It blatantly defies the peoples of an anti-normalisation region," it added, demanding an explanation from the Moroccan government.
Morocco is one of several Arab countries with limited official diplomatic relations with Israel.In 2013, five political parties in Morocco jointly sponsored two bills to outlaw normalisation with Israeli entities.
Agencies contributed to this report