"The article inadequately describes Morocco’s control over Western Sahara as “disputed,” but should be appropriately described in terms of an occupation. Western Sahara has been on the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories since 1963, when it was known as Spanish Sahara. Morocco occupied Western Sahara in 1975/76, even as the International Court of Justice rejected Morocco’s territorial claims over the territory."
June 8, 2023
Ahmed Eljechtimi, Journalist, Reuters
Dan Williams, Journalist, Reuters
Brian Moss, Trust Principles, Reuters
Steve Bartlett, Senior Managing Editor, Saltwire
Dear Mr. Eljechtimi, Mr. Willians, Mr. Moss, and Mr. Bartlett,
I’m writing to you on behalf of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME, https://www.cjpme.org) to request an immediate update to the story “Israel considers recognition of Morocco's rule over Western Sahara,” by Reuters, which was published by Saltwire on June 7, 2023.
The article inadequately describes Morocco’s control over Western Sahara as “disputed,” but should be appropriately described in terms of an occupation.
Western Sahara has been on the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories since 1963, when it was known as Spanish Sahara. Morocco occupied Western Sahara in 1975/76, even as the International Court of Justice rejected Morocco’s territorial claims over the territory. The United Nations General Assembly has repeatedly described Morocco as an occupying power, urging Morocco to “terminate the occupation” in 1979 and criticizing the “continued occupation of Western Sahara by Morocco” in 1980. In 2016, the Court of Justice of the European Union determined that Western Sahara “is not part of the territory of the Kingdom of Morocco” and that the EU-Morocco trade agreement could not be applied there.
I request that you immediately update the article to note that Western Sahara is occupied territory, and that Morocco is an occupying power.
Second, the article fails to note that Israel is an occupying power over the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza, which are considered Occupied Palestinian Territories according to international law. In this way, both Israel and Morocco are belligerent occupying powers seeking to gain international recognition for their control over territory, while denying the self-determination of the Palestinian and Sahrawi peoples, respectively. This information is highly relevant for understanding why Israel may choose to recognize Moroccan control over occupied Western Sahara, and should not have been excluded.
I request that the article is updated to mention that like Morocco, Israel is similarly an occupying power over the Palestinian territories of Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem.
Thank you for making these updates promptly. Should you wish, you can contact me at 438-380-5410 for more information.
Michael Bueckert, PhD
Vice President, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East
 See Stephen Zunes and Jacob Mundy, Western Sahara: War, Nationalism, and Conflict Irresolution, Second Edition, Syracuse Press, 2022, p. 294.
 United Nations General Assembly, “Report of the Committee on Information from Non-Self-Governing Territories,” 1963.
 International Court of Justice, “Western Sahara,” Advisory Opinion of 16 October 1975.
 UN General Assembly Resolution 34/37, 1979.
 UN General Assembly Resolution 35/19, 1980.
 Council of the European Union v Front populaire pour la libération de la saguia-el-hamra et du rio de oro (Front Polisario), Judgment, C-104/16 P, 21 December 2016, §92.