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Hamas chief meets Morocco PM

Moroccan foreign minister Saad-Eddine El Othmani addresses a press conference with his German counterpart (unseen) at the foreign ministry in Berlin on 23 November 2012. [ODD ANDERSEN/AFP via Getty Images]
Moroccan foreign minister Saad-Eddine El Othmani addresses a press conference with his German counterpart (unseen) at the foreign ministry in Berlin on 23 November 2012. [ODD ANDERSEN/AFP via Getty Images]

Hamas Chief Ismail Haniyeh yesterday met with Moroccan Prime Minister Saad-Eddine El Othmani and officials from the ruling Justice and Development Party (PJD), the movement said in a statement.

Haniyeh thanked El Othmani for the invitation, stressing that it reflects the depth of relationship between Morocco and Palestinian, as well as the people of both countries.

"I hope that this visit will lead to getting the desired and expected results from the brotherly country, Morocco," the Hamas chief said.

Haniyeh said that the Palestinian resistance achieved a great victory against the Israeli occupation during the latest Israeli offensive on the besieged Gaza Strip, and thanked Moroccans who took to the streets in millions in solidarity and support for the Palestinians during the Israeli offensive.

El Othmani said: "Morocco sees the Palestinian issue in the same position as Western Sahara. It has a very important place for all Moroccans, including the king, the government and the people."

Haniyeh came to Rabat at the invitation of the PJD and will meet other political parties during the visit.

Israeli attacks in Gaza and the West Bank killed at least 289 people, including women and children, and left behind a trail of destruction. Health centres, media offices as well as schools were among the structures targeted.

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Morocco normalised ties with Israel late last year in return for the US' recognition of its sovereignty over the Western Sahara where it has been in conflict with the Algeria-backed separatist Polisario group over the Western Sahara since 1975, after the Spanish occupation ended. It turned into an armed confrontation that lasted until 1991 and ended with the signing of a ceasefire agreement.

Rabat insists on its right to govern the region, but proposed autonomous rule in the Western Sahara under its sovereignty, but the Polisario Front wants a referendum to let the people determine the future of the region. Algeria has been supporting the Front's proposal and hosts refugees from the region.

The 1991 ceasefire came to an end last year after Morocco resumed military operations in the El Guergarat crossing, a buffer zone between the territory claimed by the state of Morocco and the self-declared Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, which the Polisario said was a provocation.

By launching the operation, Morocco "seriously undermined not only the ceasefire and related military agreements but also any chances of achieving a peaceful and lasting solution to the decolonization question of the Western Sahara," Brahim Ghali, leader of the Polisario Front, said in a letter to the UN.

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AfricaIsraelMiddle EastMoroccoNewsPalestine
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