Moroccan activists on Sunday staged a protest in the northern city of Casablanca against an expected visit to their country by former Israeli President Shimon Peres.
“Inviting Peres to the country will pave the road for normalization with Israel, which will damage Morocco’s reputation,” Activist Aziz Henawi, a leading member of the Moroccan Initiative for Support and Solidarity organization, told The Anadolu Agency during the protest.
The Protesters raised Palestinian flags as well as placards on which slogans, such as “Damned Peres, Palestine is in our hearts.”
Henawi’s organization was among 30 organizations, including NGOs and leftist-leaning political parties, organizing the demonstration.
The protest’s organizers called on the Moroccan government to end all forms of normalization with the “Zionist entity”, including diplomatic visits.
Late last month, a group of lawyers filed a legal complaint, demanding the arrest of Peres – who will visit Morocco on May 5 – accusing him of committing war crimes.
Despite having varying degrees of official relations with some Arab countries, Israel is still seen in a negative light by much of the Arab world.
This is largely due to Israel’s heavy-handed treatment of Palestinians and its ongoing occupation of Palestinian land.
Many Moroccan rights groups have voiced their rejection of Peres’ upcoming two-day visit to Morocco’s city of Marrakech, where he is scheduled to attend a conference on the Middle East and North Africa region.
The conference is organized by the New York-based Clinton Foundation.
While it does not have diplomatic relations with Israel, Morocco – which hosts the Arab world’s largest Jewish community – maintains a degree of political and economic contact with Israel on an unofficial level.
In 1989, Morocco’s King Hassan II invited Peres, then Israeli prime minister, to visit Morocco for Arab-Israeli peace talks.
Five years later, Morocco and Israel opened joint liaison offices. However, the offices were closed in 2000 following the eruption of the second Palestinian Intifada.
Peres also visited Morocco in 1993 and 1996 to attend investment conferences.