Morocco’s relations with Israel have hit a snag – for the second time in just a few days – raising concerns that the full backing of the Israeli government for Morocco’s claim to sovereignty of Western Sahara might be delayed even further if approved at all.
The Abraham Accords are still yet to be proved successful after Morocco cancelled the Negev Forum last month and with additional protests taking place around the country over the first extradition request from Israel since the signing three years ago.
On July 6th, a Moroccan coalition group pleaded with the government not to hand over a Palestinian prisoner to the Israeli government, after bombing allegations against him, according to the London-based New Arab.
The Moroccan government has denied the first request for extraditing the Palestinian prisoner on the basis that his safety is at risk.
This decision has come under watchful eyes with it being the very first request since the signing, and the Prime Minister is yet to sign a deal, although a judge ruled he should be extradited.
A member of the Moroccan League for Human Rights has since spoken out about their concern for the Palestinian detainee’s physical integrity and personal security that would be ‘in danger’ if he got deported.
They also stated that the detainee’s welfare is Morocco’s responsibility under international law.
Nassim Khalibat was reportedly arrested upon his arrival in Rabat four months ago despite the fact that there is no signed extradition agreement in place between Israel and Morocco. It is not clear if Tel Aviv submitted the arrest request via Interpol or directly to Moroccan authorities.
The 21-year-old man fled Israel after being accused of bombing a Ministry of Health facility.
“Khalibat, a resident of the Bedouin town of Basmat Tab’un, along with his brother and another relative, detonated an explosive device at the Ministry of Health in Nazareth on October 8, 2021,” according to the extradition request submitted by the Israeli Ministry of Justice on 28 June.
The other two suspects were apprehended and are currently standing trial in the Nazareth District Court.
The motive for the bombing is still unclear. An initial investigation by Israeli authorities suggested it may have been “a result of a dispute rather than an Israeli-Arab issue.”
After 21-year-old Khalibat fled to Morocco last March, Israeli media tweeted: “The detainee has health problems that would mean enduring challenging detention conditions in a prison outside the Moroccan capital of Rabat.”
There is a question of safety factors, or whether this is merely a hostile attempt to keep Israel on the fringes of a friendship.
The protest group are wary of any decisions leading to the extradition, as they see this as conforming to the agreement, rather than taking the responsibility they feel the government have.
Last week, the Moroccan Foreign Minister cancelled the planned Negev Forum meeting in Rabat, in response to increased Israeli actions in the West Bank and a number of analysts are questioning whether this latest debacle is also part of Rabat’s stand against illegal settlements.
For countries such as Morocco, the Accord is a political imposition of the US aimed at enhancing cooperation between Arab countries and Israel.
Although for now attempts at better relations seem distant, refusing to give the new right-wing government too much political capital.