Visit by Israeli delegate stirs anger in Morocco, embarrasses ruling Islamists

Parliament members of the ruling Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) announced the boycott of a Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly meeting reportedly attended by an Israeli delegate. (File photo)

Parliament members of the ruling Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) announced the boycott of a Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly meeting reportedly attended by an Israeli delegate.
The presence of an Israeli lawmaker among a delegation of the Union for the Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly gathered in the Moroccan capital, Rabat, on Saturday was met with anger from political and civil society groups in the North African kingdom.

Several Moroccan groups organized a protest against the visit by the Israeli lawmaker, whose name was not immediately revealed, in front of the parliament in Rabat prior to the opening of the Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly meeting.

Khaled Sofiani, of the National Action Group to Support Iraq and Palestine, condemned the Israeli lawmaker’s visit to Morocco and urged the government to “immediately expel” him.

The visit has caused embarrassment to the Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (PJD) that leads a coalition government.

Prior to the wave of uprisings that swept the region last year and during its time in the opposition, the moderate Islamist PJD had condemned visits to Morocco by Israeli officials, including former foreign minister Tzipi Livni.

Moroccans were keen to see how the party, now that it is in the governments, would respond to regular visits by Israeli officials.

In a bid to save face, the party ordered its MPs to boycott Saturday’s Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly meeting.

Aziz Ammari, the PJD leader in the parliament, told Al Arabiya that the decision by the party’s MPs was in line with the party’s long held position to boycott all forms of activities with Israel.

Ammari previously told Morocco’s Hespress website that his party “will not participate in any parliament activity attended by the Zionist entity.”

Ammari said he was not sure whether the Israeli lawmaker, entered Morocco with the consent of the government led by his party.

The Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly meeting will discuss ways to support parliamentarians in the Arab Spring countries’ transition to democracy, economic developments in the region, and the situation in Syria, according to a European parliament report.

(english.alarabiya.net / 24.03.2012)

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