Palestinians and Sahrawis hope for renewed solidarity after Israel-Morocco deal

Activists have long linked the two people’s struggles, and hope the latest normalisation deal will encourage the Palestinian leadership to do the same

Supporters of the Polisario Front separatist movement hold a banner reading “All for Palestine, all for Western Sahara” during a demonstration at the closing of the World Social Forum (WSF) on 30 March 2013 in Tunis (AFP)

Palestinian and Sahrawi activists have expressed their hope for greater cooperation and solidarity in the wake of the Israel-Morocco normalisation deal, which saw the US recognise Rabat’s sovereignty over the disputed Western Sahara.

Morocco’s move this week to establish diplomatic ties with Israel has been greeted with outrage by Palestinians, coming on the heels of similar recognition deals involving the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan.

It has also highlighted the joint struggle for sovereignty and recognition faced by both the Palestinians and Sahrawis against the powerful militaries of Israel and Morocco.

Though links have been made for decades between the two struggles – Rabat claimed Western Sahara in 1957 – those ties have largely been neglected by much of the Palestinian leadership in recent years as it remained close to the Moroccan government.

‘Trump’s announcement will strengthen the bonds of solidarity between the Sahrawis and the Palestinians who were deceived by the fake Moroccan support for the Palestinian cause’

– Nazha el-KhalidiSahrawi activist

Mohamed Ahmed Madi is head of the Palestinian Committee for Solidarity with the Sahrawi People, a group supporting solidarity with Western Sahara and close to the left-wing Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

In the past, his organisation has faced hurdles from Fatah and Hamas, which rule the occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip respectively, in trying to promote cooperation with the Sahrawis.

Currently living in Gaza, Madi told Middle East Eye that he hoped that Morocco’s overt alliance with Israel would make the Palestinian leadership be more sympathetic to the Sahrawi cause.

“The position is that the committee welcomes all positive stances, and we see that Morocco’s step in normalisation is an opportunity for the factions to review their positions,” he said.

“But at the same time we give real consideration to every fixed position and not to fluctuating positions that move according to circumstances.”

A Moroccan army vehicles drives in Guerguerat, located in the Western Sahara, on 26 November 2020 (AFP)
A Moroccan army vehicles in Guerguerat, in Western Sahara, on 26 November 2020 (AFP)

Palestinian and Sahrawi solidarity activism has a long history.

The PFLP was always a vocal supporter of the Polisario Front, the organisation that controls much of Western Sahara and has been engaged in a decades-long political (and sometimes armed) struggle against Morocco for Sahrawi independence.

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