Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman says, “Our public has turned against the Palestinians in general. It’s in our interest to maintain good relations with Israel.”
Israel Today For decades, the Arab world maintained a fiery hostility toward Israel, and a widespread belief that “Palestine” must be liberated at all costs. It was easy to do in the pre-Internet era when the people at large, the so-called “Arab street,” could be kept in ignorance regarding the facts of the situation.
Now, as average Arabs become increasingly informed about Israel and its conflict with the Palestinians, sentiments have shifted somewhat, at least among those not driven entirely by the notion of holy war.
“Today, the public is informed. There is a deluge of opinions against the Palestinian cause,” explained Saudi writer Abdulhameed Al-Ghobain in an interview this month with BBC Arabic. As for warming relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel, he said that “it is no longer just public support for normalization and building ties with Israel. Our public has turned against the Palestinians in general.”
But how could that happen? The “Palestinian cause” was for so long the centerpiece of regional Arab politics. The change has a lot to do with the behavior of the Palestinians themselves. “The Palestinians have not contributed anything. We can say that they are emotional people whose behavior is governed by their feelings,” explained Al-Ghobain.
Indeed, for the entire Muslim world, the “Palestinian cause” has always been based on emotions and religious convictions, despite Western efforts to paint it as a mostly political problem. That the Jews today exercise sovereignty over lands once under the dominion of Islam is seen by pious Muslims as an affront.
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But at some point, strategic national interests start to trump religious convictions. “People say out in the open that they do not care about the Palestinian cause and about the Arabs in general, and that we must steer our relations in keeping with our interests,” continued Al-Ghobain. “It is in our strategic interest, and in keeping with our future economic interests, to maintain real relations with Israel. Israel is an advanced country and we can benefit from it.”
In other words, a Palestinian state offers nothing to the rest of the region, while it has been demonstrated that relations with Israel are beneficial.
Indeed, in some ways Saudi Arabia, like Israel, views an independent Palestinian state under its current leadership as a threat. The Palestinians were among the only Arabs to back Saddam Hussein when he invaded Kuwait in 1990; the Palestinians were among the only Arabs that celebrated Al Qaeda’s 2001 attack on the United States; and the Palestinians are among the only Arabs who support, at least tacitly, Iran’s regional ambitions.
As Israeli Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger pointed out in a recent email, it’s not that the Saudis have suddenly become Zionists. “While the House of Saud has come to associate Palestinians with regional threats, it considers Israel’s posture of deterrence as an essential, reliable and effective ally in the face of these threats,” explained Ettinger.
It’s all about Saudi interests, and those are best served by normalization with Israel. More than that, many in the Arab world are coming to realize what many in Israel have been arguing all along, that a Palestinian state, particularly one influenced so heavily by the likes of Hamas, will only serve to further destabilize the region.
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Israel Today It used to be taken for granted – in the Arab Middle East – that everyone was opposed to Israel. That’s no longer true and whether or not one supports the Jewish state is no longer a given in the Arab world, and has become a divisive issue.
This was demonstrated yet again this month after the near-lynch of an Israeli man by Palestinians in the West Bank town of Nablus (biblical Shechem). The man, a taxi driver, had gone to the outskirts of Nablus to have his car fixed at a local Palestinian garage. But a gang of Palestinian youth got word that a “dirty Jew” was in town and immediately descended upon him.
Photos and video clips from the scene show the Palestinians smashing the man’s taxi with large stones before trying to drag him from the vehicle, presumably to do him bodily harm, if not murder him.
His life was only saved by the fact that the man was able to convince the mob that he himself was also Arab. It is not uncommon for Israeli Arabs to make use of services in Palestinian-controlled areas, but they are often mistaken initially for Jews.
That clip was widely shared on Arab social media, and found its way onto Arab news outlets like Saudi Arabia’s Al-Marsd, where it garnered an interesting variety of responses.
Many of the 63 commenters hailed the young Palestinians for violently assaulting a man they believed to be a Jew. But nearly as many of the Saudi readers harshly condemned the Palestinians for their barbarism.
Absolutely appalling: An #Israeli taxi driver entered the Palestinian Authority-controlled city of Nablus by accident and was viciously attacked. pic.twitter.com/8t3tLSvu3p
— StandWithUs (@StandWithUs) February 9, 2022
Some of the comments included:
“Palestinians are really terrorists. What is the fault of the taxi driver, may God curse them?”
“I hope after the video, Israel wipes out Gaza”
“Young people with immature minds, is there a law that criminalizes the entry of an Israeli taxi driver into your city? You enter occupied Israel every day and they allow you”
“May God strengthen Israel against you, you scum”
“Some say Palestinians have courage, by God, they are cowardly cowards, beating a defenseless human being”
It is no secret that even as an increasing number in the Arab world open up to and embrace Israel, the Palestinians and their nationalistic cause are falling out of favor.
And then there’s this. Amidst the Hijab row being debated in Indian courts, The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia has decided to get away with the abaya rule as he had earlier stated that the women in the country no longer needed to wear headcovers or black abaya.
Gulf States demand Palestinians apologize for “irresponsible language of incitement and threats” over the normalization agreements between Israel and the Gulf states of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.
Israel Today While Palestinian leaders have publicly denounced the UAE and Bahrain as traitors for cozying up to the Jewish state, the Palestinian street has taken to burning Emirati and Bahraini flags and desecrating photos of their leaders.
Last week, the Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Dr. Nayef al-Hajraf, condemned the Palestinians for their “irresponsible language of incitement and threats,” and demanded an apology.
He further suggested that the Palestinians were being entirely ungrateful toward countries that have for years financially propped up a failing Palestinian Authority.
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Arab media slam Palestinians as “ungrateful.” “Enough is enough!”
Israel Today In a recent editorial for the English-language newspaper Arab Times, Editor-in-Chief Ahmed Al-Jarallah described what people in the Gulf States think of the Palestinians.
Under the headline “Normalize, Let Insulters Fend for Themselves” the Kuwaiti journalist explains why he and so many others are fed up with the Palestinians. And voices like theirs are getting louder and louder in the Arab world in recent years. They confirm in a way what Israel has been saying for years, that the Palestinian conflict is no longer the primary Arab interest in the Middle East. And this angers the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah and Gaza.
Al-Jarallah begins by reminding the Palestinians of some of what the Gulf States have done for them over the years:
We are the only ones who rescued them in the year 1970 when they launched their war on Jordan. The late Sheikh Saad Al-Abdullah evacuated their leader Yasser Arafat from Amman. The Arabian Gulf states, led by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, boycotted oil export to the Western countries during the 1973 war [Yom Kippur War against Israel].
“Furthermore, Riyadh presented two initiatives to solve the issue. Despite their [Palestinians’] support of Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait and their participation in acts of intimidation, abuse and killing against Kuwaiti citizens, the Gulf nationals especially Kuwaitis continued to support the Palestinians and their resistance factions.
“All of this is just the tip of the iceberg of what the Gulf states and their people offered to the Palestinians, who were and still are ungrateful.”
What’s got Al-Jarallah and others in the Gulf States upset is that the Palestinians continue to take the wrong side. Thirty years ago it was Saddam Hussein. Today, the Palestinians are cozying up to Iran’s ayatollahs, even as they in turn threaten the rest of the Arab world.
“They stood with the Iranian Houthi aggressor against Saudi Arabia and the Gulf. They slandered and cursed the leaders and governments of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries because they did not mourn the assassination of the head of the terrorist snake Qasem Soleimani,” continued the Kuwaiti editor, noting that the insults slung by the Palestinians at Gulf State leaders are even more venomous than those they hurl at Israel.
So what’s the solution he suggests? First of all he suggests that the Gulf States cut all financial support for the Palestinians, and stop offering to rebuild ever time Hamas starts a war with Israel. “Let them rebuild what they destroy by their own acts.”
Furthermore, he wants to see Kuwait and the rest of the Gulf States follow the example of the UAE and Bahrain by making peace and normalizing relations with Israel.
As for the Palestinians: “Enough is enough! The camel’s back has been broken from the burden of grief we endure due to their ingratitude. …Let the foolish fend for themselves.”
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