Normalisation deal sparks turmoil within Morocco’s Islamist party
RABAT--The Moroccan Justice and Development Party (PJD) is going through unprecedented internal turmoil due to conflicting positions among its leaders and supporters regarding the signing of an agreement to resume relations with Israel by the PJD Secretary-General and Prime Minister Saadeddine Othmani.
Some of the members of the PJD went as far as calling for a freeze of Othmani’s membership for violating the party’s principles, and his referral to the National Arbitration Committee by the General Secretariat.
To contain the angry reactions, the party’s General Secretariat held an extraordinary meeting on Wednesday, announcing its full understanding of the expressed reservations while expressing at the same time its support for Othmani, who has been performing his duties as the second highest official in the country.
According to a statement released on Wednesday, the General Secretariat of the PJD also expressed its sympathy with reactions in the support of the Palestinians– reactions that “confirm Morocco’s position and its essential role in advocating for this cause.”
On his Facebook page, the PJD’s former General-Secretary Abdelilah Benkirane called on the critics to “stop exerting pressure on Othmani to submit his resignation, because such acts will create a political crisis.”
“The state should not be a field for childish games, and we support our king because we currently head the government,” he said.
A US-Israeli delegation signed agreements with Morocco in Rabat Tuesday, cementing a Washington-sponsored normalisation of relations between the Jewish state and the North African country.
The visiting delegation, led by Jared Kushner — son-in-law and adviser to outgoing US President Donald Trump — and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s security advisor, Meir Ben Shabbat, arrived in Rabat from Tel Aviv on the first direct commercial flight between Israel and Morocco.
Less than two weeks ago, Morocco became the third Arab state this year, after the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, to normalise ties with Israel under US-brokered deals, while Sudan has pledged to follow suit.
Rasheed Lazraq, a professor of political science, said, in a statement to The Arab Weekly, that Othmani will try to absorb the anger of his opponents, and justify his party’s position on Israel based of the principle of religious jurisprudence that calls for prioritising interests and warding off evil.
Othmani, Lazraq said, needs the help of clerics from the party’s advocacy arm to legitimise his position by evoking Islamic law, namely the principle that states the need to prevent harmful acts before their occurrence as a precaution but adds that if a harmful act takes place, then there is need to address it.