May 13, 1984
In 1984, there were approximately 20,000 Jews in Morocco. Both Israelis and Arabs were suspicious of the May 13-14 Conference on the Jewish Communities of Morocco which was held in Rabat. Some Israelis questioned King Hassan II’s sincerity, while others praised the dialogue that he encouraged. Egypt’s Minister of State Butrous Ghali, who was married to a Jewish woman, praised King Hasan, but state-sponsored Syrian media vilified the Moroccan king for putting his own politics and policies ahead of the Arab cause. Syria viewed this conference as a betrayal of the Arab struggle. Syria feared that Morocco could become a venue for Israeli-Palestinian talks and that it would be excluded from future talks just as it had been excluded from conversations between Jordan and the PLO.
During the conference, thirty-eight Israelis – including eight Knesset Members – met with Moroccan officials. Few who attended the conference knew that several times in 1976 and 1977, before Egyptian President Sadat’s historic trip to Jerusalem, King Hasan II had convened secret meetings between Egyptian and Israeli leaders. Those meetings, along with other secret meetings in Rumania, convinced Sadat and Prime Minister Menachem Begin that they could negotiate an agreement that would at least address dominion over the Sinai desert.
The photo shows a special Israeli stamp commemorating King Hassan II that was issued in July 2000, one year after his death in July 1999.