Ex-Israeli war minister’s visit sparks storm in Morocco
Former Israeli minister of military affairs Amir Peretz has faced angry protests at the Moroccan parliament in Rabat, with several lawmakers calling him a “war criminal” and demanding his expulsion.
Peretz, who is currently a member of the Knesset for the Zionist Union, set off a storm at the chamber on Sunday after arriving to attend a joint conference of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean (PAM) and the World Trade Organization.
“You are a war criminal. You are an unwanted guest here,” MP Achsan Abed el-Halak, the leader of the workers’ party, shouted at Peretz.
A commotion erupted which lasted for 15 minutes after another member of the Israeli delegation came to Peretz’s aid and accused protesting lawmakers of representing what he called “radical Islam.”
Peretz was born in Morocco in 1952 before emigrating to Israel where he served as the Israeli minister of military affairs for a year in 2006. His tenure marked Israel’s invasion of Lebanon for the second time.
Under his command, Israeli attacks were carried out via air and land on military and civilian targets for 33 days, during which more than 1,000 Lebanese were killed. In the last 48 hours of the war, Peretz pushed for a massive ground operation, in which 33 Israeli troops were killed.
Israel used to have a Israeli liaison office in Morocco until 2000 but it had to close it down after the second Palestinian Intifada broke out. Peretz has visited Morocco in the past and met with the king.
According to the Jerusalem Post, Peretz led the Israeli delegation to this week’s conference on facilitating trade and investments in the region.
The incident comes amid a campaign in some Arab states to desensitize the public to a normalization of ties with Israel.
The British daily The Sunday Times reported in June that Saudi Arabia and the Israeli regime were in clandestine talks to establish official economic relations for the first time.
According to a new report published in the Hebrew-language Maariv daily, Israeli and UAE businessmen have secretly brokered arms deals between the two sides.
Open relations with Israel, however, are set to provoke outrage among Arabs, many of whom maintain that normalization of diplomatic ties between Israel and Arab countries can only occur after Palestinians are allowed to return to their homes.
Meanwhile, Israeli leaders often face protests during their visits abroad, where a groundswell of public anger has been building up against Tel Aviv’s policies, including its settlement expansion which has intensified under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.