Critics inside the Justice and Development Party are calling on El Othmani to resign after he signed the Joint Declaration establishing ties between Morocco and Israel.
Rabat – Abdelilah Benkirane, Morocco’s former Head of Government, has backed Saad Eddine El Othmani, the country’s incumbent PM, after he received heavy criticism for signing the joint declaration with Israli and US senior officials.
Head of Government Saad Eddine El Othmani signed the declaration on Tuesday along US Senior Adviser Jared Kushner and Israel’s Security Adviser Meir Ben Shabbat. The proclamation officialized the re-establishment of diplomatic relations with Tel Aviv.
Since then, El Othmani received heavy criticism from some citizens and members of the Justice and Development Party (PJD). Some have even called on El Othmani to resign.
In a live broadcast on Facebook, Benkirane slammed critics. He argued that any official who worked at a senior government position knows the importance of the US decision to recognize Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara.
For Benkirane, no senior Moroccan official can understandably refuse to sign or endorse a document that supports Morocco’s Western Sahara position.
He also said no head of government can intervene in the much-sensitive Sahara dossier without the King’s permission.
Benkirane rejected the resignation campaign against El Othmani, saying that such calls betray the values and identity of the PJD he identifies with.
Supporting Morocco’s sovereignty is imperative
He emphasized that the party is not an ordinary institution, but a body that is part of the government coalition. Most importantly perhaps, he stressed the need to support decisions that benefit Morocco’s sovereignty.
The influential politician, who also served as a secretary-general of the PJD, emphasized that his party carries considerable weight in the country and the government.
Benkirane concluded by asking critics to back Morocco’s sovereign decisions.
“We are in an external battle, and we cannot abandon the state,” he said.
The former prime minister said that El Othmani is the head of government and the signing of the joint declaration with the US and Israel is a key part of his prerogatives.
“Was it possible that El Othmani refused to sign? It is possible, but cannot be approved after hours,” Benkirane emphasized.
He said that if critics have issues, they have to respect institutions by organizing an exceptional conference or holding a national council to listen to El Othmani as the PJD’s Secretary General and then judge him accordingly.
While the party can leave the government, doing so now would be inappropriate as the country’s decisions and sovereignty need widespread national support, Benkrina argued.
Morocco’s decision to establish ties with Israel raised concerns among a number of Moroccan citizens and activists who have dsrcibed the move as a :betrayal” of the Palestinian cause.
In response, Morocco’s government and King Mohammed VI have repeatedly reiterated t the country’s “constant” and “principled” support for the Palestinian cause.
In a recent letter to President Mahmoud Abbas, King Mohammed VI said that Morocco considers the Palestinian cause a priority like Western Sahara.
Far from abandoning its commitment to Palestine, as critics have suggested, Morocco will continue using its diplomatic and cultural weight to advocate for a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, the King suggested.