Moroccans outraged by Palestinians’ ‘support’ for rebel group

Earlier this week, the leader of the Algerian-backed Polisario Front, Brahim Ghali, announced that his movement will no longer abide by the three-decade UN-supervised ceasefire in Western Sahara.

Contradictory statements by Palestinian envoys concerning the Western Sahara conflict have apparently triggered a crisis between Morocco and the Palestinian Authority.

Earlier this week, the Palestinian embassy in Morocco distanced itself from a statement issued by a group named The Palestinian Youth Organization that expressed support for the Polisario Front, a rebel movement aiming to end Morocco’s presence in Western Sahara.

The embassy said that the statement does not represent the official position of the PA and stressed the Palestinians’ support for the “unity, safety and security of Morocco and the unity of Moroccan soil.”

On Tuesday, however, the Palestinian ambassador to Algiers, Amin Maqboul, was quoted as expressing support for the Polisario Front.

Maqboul, in an interview with an Algerian newspaper, said that the statement issued by the Palestinian embassy in Morocco does not represent the official position of the PA. The PA, he said, has not commented on recent developments in the Western Sahara.

Maqboul later clarified that the Palestinians remain committed to UN resolutions to find an agreed political solution for the Western Sahara conflict. He expressed hope that the “brothers in Algiers and Morocco would be able to resolve the issue and live in peace and tranquility.”

Earlier this week, the leader of the Algerian-backed Polisario Front, Brahim Ghali, announced that his movement will no longer abide by the three-decade UN-supervised ceasefire in Western Sahara.

The announcement came after Morocco launched a military operation last week to reopen a key highway at the Guerguerat border crossing between the territory and Mauritania that it claimed had been blocked by the Polisario Front.

The Moroccan news website Hesspress reported that Maqboul’s reported support for the Polisario Front has outraged many Moroccans. It pointed out that Maqboul had in the past appeared in public with members of the Polisario Front, a move seen by Moroccans as a Palestinian endorsement of the movement.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry in Ramallah said in a statement on Tuesday, in an attempt to ease tensions with Morocco, that the Palestinians do not intervene in the internal affairs of the Arab countries.

The ministry’s statement, however, drew sharp criticism from the Socialist Union of Popular Forces, a political party in Morocco.

The party took the PA to talks for failing to explicitly support the Moroccan people in their “just” conflict with the Polisario Front. The Moroccan party said that the Palestinians’ “alleged neutrality” in the conflict was tantamount to a “poisoned dagger” against Morocco, which has long supported the Palestinian issue and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

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