(photo credit: REUTERS)
Former defense minister Amir Peretz faced angry protestations from delegates to a joint conference of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean (PAM) and the World Trade Organization at the Moroccan Parliament in Rabat on Sunday.
At the end of the conference’s opening session, Moroccan parliamentarian Achsan Abed El-Halak, the leader of a four-seat radical Islamic party workers’ party, began shouting at Peretz, a Zionist Union MK.
“You are a war criminal,” El-Halak said. “You are an unwanted guest here.”
Former Kadima MK and current PAM Roving Ambassador Majallie Whbee jumped to Peretz’s defense, pointing out that he was born in Morocco, as were his parents: “You have no right to attack him.”
Whbee also accused El-Halak: “You are radical Islam. You destroyed Tunisia, Yemen, Libya and Syria, and now you want to destroy Morocco.”
The hubbub continued for about 15 minutes, Peretz’s spokesman reported. Even the Palestinian delegation did not support El-Halak’s outburst.
The former defense minister was born in Morocco in 1952 and emigrated to Israel with his family in 1956.
Earlier this year, Peretz was elected vice president of PA M, an organization with representatives of countries in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. He led the Israeli delegation to this week’s conference on facilitating trade and investments in the region.
Israel has not had formal diplomatic ties with Morocco since the Second Intifada broke out in 2000, but thousands of Israeli tourists visit each year. Peretz has visited Morocco in the past and met with the king, after he was elected Labor leader in 2005.
Moroccan Senator Lhou Lmarbouh, who is also a PAM vice president and chairman of the meeting, apologized to Peretz, calling him a wanted guest and saying: “This minority cannot represent our parliament or the Moroccan people.”