Morocco’s police disperse protest against ties with Israel

RABAT, Morocco (AP) — Moroccan authorities on Monday dispersed a group of activists who tried to hold a protest outside the parliament building in the capital to denounce the country’s recent decision to establish diplomatic relations with Israel.

Dozens of police officers in riot gear were mobilized to push protesters away from parliament in Rabat. Demonstrators wanted to show solidarity with Palestinians and reject the normalization of ties between Rabat and Tel Aviv.

The U.S. brokered deal was announced last week by President Donald Trump.

Sion Assidon, a Moroccan Jew and a human rights activist, told reporters while being escorted away by authorities that “whoever expresses disagreement must put duct tape on their mouths.”

Abdessamad Fathi, president of the Moroccan Instance for the Support of Ummah Affairs, a group affiliated with the outlawed Al Adl Wal Ihsane movement, said on Facebook that authorities’ decision to ban sit-in is an indication that normalizing relations with Israel is “imposed on Moroccans.”

On Sunday, Moroccan authorities allowed a large gathering outside the Parliament building to support the recent deal that also included U.S. recognition of Morocco’s claim over the long-disputed Western Sahara region.

Another large rally was organized on Sunday in the city of Laayoune in Western Sahara, where thousands of Moroccans had chanted slogans in support of the agreement.

The royal palace in Rabat said in a statement that king Mohammed VI had promised President Donald Trump he would facilitate direct flights to transport Jews of Moroccan origin and Israeli tourists to and from Morocco and re-open the liaison offices. The announcement was cheered by political parties and provoked despair among Islamist groups.

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