The UN Security Council -- of which the US and France are permanent members -- increasingly favors Morocco’s autonomy proposal as a basis for resuming diplomatic discussions.
As the world reacted to news of Morocco and Israel’s agreement to establish diplomatic relations, France’s Foreign Ministry called for an end to the Western Sahara conflict and raised Morocco’s Autonomy Plan as a serious and credible basis for discussions.
The Western Sahara conflict “has lasted too long and poses a permanent risk of tensions, as we saw recently in Guerguerat,” said the ministry’s spokesperson, according to Morocco’s state media.
The statement said France remains committed to the search for a lasting, mutually acceptable political solution within the framework of international legality and in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions.
“In this perspective, France considers the Moroccan Autonomy Plan as a basis for serious and credible discussions,” the spokesperson said.
The Autonomy Plan provides a clear path for Moroccan sovereignty in Western Sahara and the completion of the country’s territorial integrity.
Included in the US-brokered normalization deal between Israel and Morocco was President Donald Trump’s endorsement of the autonomy proposal and his recognition of Moroccan sovereignty in Western Sahara. US recognition of Morocco’s sovereignty is an important step towards finding a solution to the territorial dispute.
In a presidential proclamation on December 10, Trump affirmed his administration’s support for Morocco’s Autonomy Plan as the only solution to the dispute, adding that a Sahrawi “state” in the region is unrealistic.
Morocco proposed the Autonomy Plan to the UN in 2007. The plan suggests making Western Sahara a semi-autonomous region that remains under Morocco’s sovereignty. It would allow the region’s inhabitants to manage their social, economic, and political affairs while Morocco handles defense and diplomacy.
Echoing a growing consensus
Over the years, the UN Security Council — of which the US and France are permanent members — has acknowledged the Moroccan autonomy proposal as a realistic, pragmatic approach to solving the territorial dispute.
Polisario, the Algeria-backed militant group claiming to represent the region’s inhabitants, continues to call for an independent “state” and a referendum on “self-determination.” But mentions of Polisario’s referendum have been absent from UN Security Council Resolutions since 2001 and the separatist group is steadily losing favor in the international arena due to its militancy and warlike provocations.
France’s latest statement on the Autonomy Plan echoes that which it delivered on October 30 after approving UN Security Council Resolution 2548 to extend the mandate of MINURSO, the UN peacekeeping mission in Western Sahara.
In its statement today, France’s Foreign Ministry also commented on Morocco’s constant position on the Palestinian cause, welcoming King Mohammed VI’s declaration of support for a two-state solution after news broke of Morocco’s agreement to establish ties with Israel.
Speaking to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas yesterday, the King assured that “Morocco always places the Palestinian issue in the rank of the Moroccan Sahara issue, and that Morocco’s work to consolidate its Moroccanness will never be, neither today nor in the future, at the expense of the Palestinian people’s struggle for their legitimate rights.”
Morocco is the fourth country in the Arab world to establish diplomatic ties with Israel as part of Trump’s “Abraham Accords” for peace in the Middle East. Morocco’s decision comes after that of the UAE, Bahrain, and Sudan, and the Trump administration expects other countries such as Oman and Saudi Arabia to soon follow.
Many supporters of an independent Palestine consider Arab normalization with Israel a betrayal and fear it will lead to an abandonment of the Palestinian cause. Morocco insists this is not the case.