Diplomat leaves Morocco due to mass protest

Israeli envoy David Saranga cuts short working visit after tens of thousand protest his presence at meetings in parliament.

By
March 26, 2012 19:14
2 minute read.
Anti-Israel protesters outside parliament in Rabat

Anti-Israel protesters outside parliament in Rabat 370 R. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Israeli diplomat David Saranga cut short a working visit to Morocco by 12 hours on Sunday after tens of thousands of people took part in a pro-Palestinian protest in front of the parliament in Rabat where he was attending meetings.

Saranga, Israel’s representative at a meeting of the Euro-Med organization that groups the 27 EU states with Israel, the Palestinian Authority and eight Arab countries in the region, was escorted out of the parliament at the end of the meeting and – instead of spending another night in the Moroccan capital – was taken directly to the airport and put on a flight to Paris.

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Saranga heads the European Parliament Liaison Department at the Israeli mission in Brussels. He praised the Moroccan security services for the way they handled the situation.

Saranga told The Jerusalem Post from Brussels on Monday that he never felt in danger, and that a ring of police separated the protesters – waving Palestinian flags and Israeli flags with the Stars of David replaced by a swastika – from the parliament building.

He said this was nothing like the siege of the Israeli embassy in Cairo in September when six Israeli security guards were rescued from an enraged mob.

Saranga arrived in Morocco on Thursday night, and said that while he was taking part in meetings in the parliament on Saturday, colleagues told him there were a few hundred people outside calling for the release of Palestinian prisoners and protesting his participation in the meeting.

The next day, while a much larger demonstration was taking place, Saranga was in meetings and said he had no idea what was happening outside until someone told him about it. He said he heard the protesters, but could not see them up-close.



Saranga said the decision to escort him out of the parliament and to the airport at the end of the day was made because his picture as Israel’s representative had appeared in the media, and there was concern for his safety if he stayed another night in the city. He consulted with the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem and decided to take an earlier flight to Paris, and to continue on from there to Brussels.

Saranga said the incident would not impact Israel’s participation in future Euro-Med meetings, and pointed out that even though Morocco’s Islamic ruling party boycotted the meeting because of Israel’s participation, the country hosted it anyway.

Saranga said Moroccan officials told him the protesters were exercising their democratic right to demonstrate.


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