Is a growing interest in Israel on the rise in Morocco?

Moroccan delegations begin arriving in Israel.

November 30, 2016 02:24
2 minute read.
Andre Azoulay senior adviser to King Mohammed VI of Morocco

Andre Azoulay senior adviser to King Mohammed VI Morocco. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)


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For the first time in years, Morocco appeared Tuesday on a monthly announcement the Foreign Ministry issues about upcoming visits to Israel from statesmen and high-level delegations.

According to the list, a delegation from the North African state made up of “social activists in the field of education and culture” will arrive December 28.

A ministry spokesman said more information about the group would be given closer to its arrival.

This will be the third delegation from Morocco to visit the country in a span of two months.

Earlier this month the Foreign Ministry sponsored a week-long trip to Israel for a delegation of senior Moroccan journalists, and a group of Moroccan educators is currently taking part in a seminar – the second one in two years – at Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies to learn and develop tools and methods of how to teach and educate the Moroccan public about the Holocaust.

In September, King Mohammed VI dispatched his adviser Andre Azoulay, who is Jewish, to represent Morocco at the funeral of Shimon Peres.

“There is more and more interest in Morocco toward Israel,” one diplomatic official said, commenting on the delegations. “More and more delegations are coming, and we see that as positive and encouraging.”

The arrival of these delegations is of particular interest since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has for months been talking about a confluence of interest with a number of Arab states in the region, but there has been little public evidence of a thawing of attitudes in those countries toward the Jewish state.

The arrival of the delegations has not gone without criticism in the Arab world.

For instance, Hamas denounced the arrival of the delegation of journalists earlier in the month as a “crime,” with its spokesman Fawzi Barhoum quoted at the time as saying: “In the shadow of the escalation of the crimes of the Israeli enemy and the actions of racist purification against our people, we condemn the visit of a team of Moroccan media persons to the Israeli entity with the goal of normalizing with it and undertaking a campaign of beautifying its image in the Arab media.”

Israel and Morocco have not had formal relations since the outset of the second intifada in 2000, when Morocco suspended diplomatic ties with Israel, and closed both its economic liaison office in the country, and Israel’s liaison office in Morocco.

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