Morocco king congratulates Israel PM as Haniyeh visits Rabat

Moroccan king congratulates new far-right Israeli PM as Hamas delegation arrives in Rabat
2 min read
16 June, 2021
The message, which was reported by several media sources, stressed Morocco’s desire to 'continue its goal of serving peace in the Middle East'.
King Mohammed VI told Naftali Bennett that Morocco wants to 'serve peace' [Getty]

Morocco's King Mohammed VI has sent a message of congratulations to Israel’s new far-right Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, amid preparations by a delegation from the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas to visit Morocco.

The message, which was reported by several media sources, stressed Morocco’s desire to “continue its goal of serving peace in the Middle East”.

Morocco and Israel signed a controversial deal normalising relations in December 2020 following encouragement from the administration of former US President Donald Trump, who recognised Morocco’s claim to the disputed Western Sahara territory shortly afterwards.

“I take this opportunity to stress to you the Kingdom of Morocco’s wish to continue its active role and well-intentioned efforts to serve a just and permanent peace in the Middle East, guaranteeing the right of all the peoples of the region to live side by side in security, stability, and harmony,” the king told Bennett, who took office as Israeli prime minister on Sunday.

Bennett heads a disparate coalition of Israeli parties united by little more than their opposition to former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

He is a controversial right-wing figure who has previously boasted of “killing Arabs” and said that he would annex most of the West Bank and not allow a Palestinian state.

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Shortly after the king sent his message to the new Israeli leader, sources in Hamas told the Arabic news website Arabi 21 that the head of the movement’s political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, would arrive in Morocco on Wednesday.

This is the first such visit by a Hamas leader to the North African kingdom.

Accompanying Haniyeh in the Hamas delegation were senior officials Mousa Abu Marzouk and Khalil al-Haya. The sources said that the delegation would travel to Mauritania after visiting Morocco.

The Turkish Anadolu news agency reported that the Hamas delegation was invited by the Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) which heads the Moroccan government and previously tried to distance itself from the king’s decision to normalise ties with Israel.

Last month, Israel waged an 11-day bombing campaign on the Gaza Strip. killing 254 Palestinians in Gaza, while 12 people were killed in Israel by Hamas rockets.