A delegation from the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, has visited Morocco to meet local political leaders. The delegation was led by the head of the Hamas political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh. The agenda for discussions included the latest developments in occupied Palestine following Israel's military offensive against the Gaza Strip last month.
As well as officials from the Moroccan parliament and political parties, Haniyeh and the Hamas team met the Bayt Mal Al-Quds Agency, headed by Morocco's King Mohammed VI. The agency provides support for occupied Jerusalem. The king hosted the Palestinian delegation at a dinner in the Hospitality Palace in Rabat last Friday.
According to Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri, who is with the delegation, "The visit to Morocco is an outstanding step forward for the Kingdom's support for the Palestinian cause. This can only reflect the steadfastness of the Palestinian people and the triumphs of the resistance."
In exclusive statements to Arabi21, Abu Zuhri said that, "All the meetings we held with Moroccan officials or party leaders confirm the extent to which Morocco embraces the Palestinian cause, both at the official and popular levels. We believe that this visit will establish a new stage in the development of the Moroccan stance on the Palestinian cause."
The Hamas official extended the movement's appreciation to King Mohammed, the Moroccan government and the concerned parties which sponsored the visit and ensured its success.
Moroccan writer and journalist Noureddine Lachhab said that this was very much a state visit. He pointed out that the Israeli offensive was launched because Hamas sought to defend Jerusalem, and Morocco presides over the Jerusalem Committee in the person of Amir Al-Mu'minin (Commander of the Faithful). There was also a patriotic aspect that characterised the discourse of the Hamas leadership in its battle against the Israeli occupation.
"Morocco has never attacked the Palestinian resistance or any of its factions," explained Lachhab, "so the hosting of this visit is consistent with Morocco's principled position on the Palestinian cause and the two-state solution." Moreover, he suggested that the welcome afforded to Haniyeh and his colleagues by the President of the House of Councillors, the Speaker of Parliament, and the leaders of political parties could play a role in reconciling Hamas's relations with the West.
"We have to admit that Hamas after the recent war on Jerusalem and Gaza is not the same Hamas before the war," he concluded. "Of course, in no way does this mean that Morocco disparages the leadership of the Palestinian Authority."
This is the first time that such a senior Hamas delegation has made an official visit of this significance to Morocco. It was part of a tour of the Arab region to mobilise support for the Palestinian cause against the occupation, especially the challenges facing Jerusalem. The delegation arrived in Mauritania yesterday.