King Mohammed VI’s message to Naftali Bennett comes as Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh travels to Morocco for meetings.
The new leader of Israel received “warm greetings” in a letter from the King of Morocco as Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh visited the country for talks on the Palestinian cause.
The message sent by King Mohammed VI congratulated Naftali Bennett on becoming Israel’s first new leader in 12 years after the coalition government he concocted ousted longtime leader Benjamin Netanyahu this week.
Morocco “will continue its efforts to promote peace, justice and coexistence in the Middle East, which will ensure security, stability and brotherhood for all peoples living side by side,” said the king’s correspondence.
“Warm greetings and best wishes for great success,” the letter said, who was quoted Wednesday by the office of the Israeli prime minister.
Morocco is home to North Africa’s largest Jewish community of around 3,000 people, and Israel is home to 700,000 Jews of Moroccan descent.
It became the fourth Arab state last year, along with the United Arab Emirates, Sudan, and Bahrain, to normalize relations with Israel under agreements negotiated by the United States.
The Palestinians condemned the agreements, calling them a betrayal of a long-held position that Israel first responds to its state demand before achieving normalization.
Support “the Palestinian cause”
Meanwhile, Haniyeh met with Moroccan Prime Minister Saad-Eddine El Othmani and officials of the ruling Justice and Development Party (PJD) on Wednesday.
Haniyeh thanked El Othmani for the invitation to Morocco. “I hope this visit will lead to the desired and expected results from sister country Morocco,” Haniyeh said.
El Othmani said in a statement, “The delegation will have discussions with the leadership of the Justice and Development Party regarding the latest developments in the Palestinian cause and how to support it. “
Haniyeh was on his first official trip to Rabat after an 11-day Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip, which began on May 10.
The Israeli attacks on Gaza killed at least 256 people, including dozens of women and children, and left behind a trail of destruction. Health centers, media offices and schools were among the targeted structures.
King Mohammed VI said negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians were the only way to reach a final, lasting and comprehensive solution to the conflict.
Before Israel’s creation in 1948, Morocco was home to a large Jewish population, many of whose ancestors migrated to North Africa from Spain and Portugal during the Spanish Inquisition.
Israel and Morocco established low-level diplomatic relations during the 1990s following Israel’s interim peace agreements with the Palestinians, but these relations were suspended after the outbreak of the Second Palestinian Intifada in 2000.
Since then, however, informal ties have continued and around 50,000 Israelis travel to Morocco each year to learn more about the Jewish community and trace their family history.