Saâdeddine El Otmani: Restoring relations with Israel is “a fully assumed State decision”

According to the head of government, Saâdeddine El Otmani, Morocco‘s decision to re-establish relations with Israel is a fully assumed state decision and affirms that the national interest takes precedence over any other consideration.

Criticized by Islamists from his Justice and Development Party (PJD) for having signed the agreement restoring Morocco’s relations with the Hebrew state, while rejecting any resumption last August, the head of government Saâdeddine El Otmani relativizes these criticisms, claiming that the national interest prevails any other consideration.
The kingdom has two sacred causes on which the Moroccan people are unanimous: their sovereignty over the entire national territory and the Palestinian question. When I spoke last August, it was to recall the position of the Justice and Development Party, which remains unchanged, he said Thursday in an interview with the weekly Jeune Afrique.

According to Mr El Otmani, in the life of states, certain choices are difficult (…) And the decision to resume diplomatic relations between Morocco and the Hebrew State is part of it.

That said, it is a fully assumed state decision, he said.

Asked by the weekly whether the recognition by the United States of the Kingdom‘s full sovereignty over its Sahara justified its pragmatism, Saâdeddine El Otmani replied: What you call pragmatism is rather a sovereign decision of Morocco, based on immutable principles and values.

The American recognition of Morocco’s sovereignty over its Sahara consolidates Morocco‘s many achievements in its national cause and constitutes an important step in the process of resolving this artificial conflict, given the place that the United States occupies as well as on the international stage, he said.

This changes the game and could encourage other countries to be supportive of our national cause.

In front of King Mohammed VI, accompanied by Crown Prince Moulay El Hassan, Saadeddine El Otmani, Head of Government and Secretary General of the PJD, signed on 22 December 2020 on the Joint Declaration which emphasized the opening of a new era in relations between the Kingdom of Morocco and the State of Israel.

Mr. El Otmani was then subjected to a violent attack by his brothers, who criticized him for his former anti-normalization declarations with Israel and his current acceptance of the resumption of relations between Morocco and the Hebrew State.

The violence of the attacks was such that former Prime Minister, Islamist Abdelillah Benkirane, thought it necessary to get out of his retirement to fly to the rescue of the current head of government. Objective: to calm the frish minds and ardors of some, and to explain to those who have not understood the primacy of national interest over the sometimes chimerical discourse of the international Islamist posture.

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While most parties in the Moroccan political chessboard have grasped the strategic importance of this American turning point, which will seal in marble the political and geographical unity of the Kingdom, part of the Islamist forces, under the ideological grip of the great brotherhood of the Muslim Brotherhood, have given this unfortunate impression of wanting to get out of national unanimity to sabotage with their hesitation and criticism the great diplomatic performance that Morocco has just achieved by ripping the recognition of the Moroccan Sahara from the greatest political power in the world.

This approach by some Moroccan Islamists is all the more anachronistic since Morocco has in no way changed its way of behaving with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A fervent defender of the two-state solution and the preservation of the Islamic character of the sacred city of Al Quds, Morocco has not yielded to any nerve point of the Palestinian question so dear to Moroccans.

Islamist populist discourse tends to give preference to extra-national posture, even though the play of Morocco’s opponents rugs in the shadows or openly hostile, rather than serving national interests that would ensure that the end of the Sahara conflict would make Morocco stronger and its singular voice more audible to defend the interests of his friends, including those of the Palestinian people.