Menu JTA Search

Conference of Moroccan Jewish Communities Seen As Possible Precursor of New Mideast Peace Initiative

Several Knesset members who attended the first national conference of Moroccan Jewish communities which ended here Monday night, expressed cautious optimism yesterday that the event could herald a new Middle East peace initiative encouraged by King Hassan of Morocco.

The conference, which opened Sunday, drew some 500 participants and observers representing the Moroccan Jewish community and Jewish communities in the United States, France and other countries. They included a 35-member Israeli delegation, of which II are members of the Knesset representing both the Labor Party and the Likud-led coalition government.

The Israelis were invited with the express permission of Hassan, the first time a group of Israeli parliamentarians have visited an Arab League member-state.

According to Meir Shitreet of Likud, the most important result of the conference could be to pave the way for a new peace initiative. It would be welcomed by Israel if it came from Morocco, he said, adding that King Hassan’s prestige will be enhanced in the U.S. and among Jewish communities all over the world for having the conference in his capital.

SEE KING PLAYING A KEY ROLE

Yossi Sarid, of the Labor Alignment said he was convinced that the Moroccan King could play a key role by inducing Palestinians and Jordanians to join the peace process. He saw the presence of Israelis in Rabat as a first step toward peace in the Middle East and the promotion of a dialogue between Arabs and Jews.

Aharon Abu-Hatzeira, the Moroccan-born leader of the Tami party, a partner in the Likudled coalition, noted that the leader of the Israeli delegation, Labor MK Rafael Edri, had extended an invitation to Hassan to visit Israel.

According to Abu-Hatzeira, the Moroccan monarch is the only Arab head of state–apart from the President of Egypt–who may be able to make such a visit to initiate a general dialogue between Arabs and Jews for peace in the Middle East.

He said the Israeli delegation had not suggested that the King modify his positions on the Arab-Israel dispute when it invited him to Israel.

But observers here have cautioned against expectations that spectacular results will emerge from the Rabat conference in the near future. They noted in that connection that relations between Israel and Egypt are at their lowest point since they signed their peace treaty in 1979 and that Syria still opposes the peace process.

The presence of Israelis in the Moroccan capital has already had sharp repercussions. Syria has recalled its Ambassador to Morocco and six Palestinian terrorist groups. often in conflict with each other, have denounced what they branded the dangerous and suspicious role played by the Moroccan government.

In the view of those organizations, Morocco is the foremost “reactionary” regime in the Arab world, spawning “treason,” notably its alleged sponsorship of the Camp David accords.

The latter was an allusion to the secret negotiations carried out in Morocco between Israeli and Egyption representatives which resulted in the late President Anwar Sadat’s visit to Jerusalem in 1977.

The six Arab groups that issued the denunciation are: the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, headed by George Habash; the Popular Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, led by Nayif Hawatmeh; the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, of Ahmed Jibril; the Popular Fighting Front of Samir Ghocheh; the pro-Syrian Al Saika; and the El Fatah dissidents opposed to PLO chief Yasir Arafat.

NEXT STORY