Gulf states committed to Palestine despite provocative remarks
The Palestinian cause holds a pre-eminent position among the Arab governments and people, who have considered it their most vital cause since the 1950s. Arab and Gulf governments, led by Saudi Arabia, have worked tirelessly to propose various initiatives in pursuit of a fair and comprehensive agreement that ensures Palestinians have the right to establish their own independent state, with East Jerusalem as its capital. Achieving this objective will encourage the development of peace and security in this restive region.
Despite all the support and human, economic, political, military and diplomatic sacrifices that Saudi Arabia, in particular, has provided — in addition to hosting a huge and diverse Palestinian community — this unstinting benevolence has been met, on many occasions, with insults targeting the Kingdom’s leadership and people, as well as those of its fellow Gulf states.
Let us recall here the Palestinian leadership’s position in the early 1990s, when Saddam Hussein’s regime invaded Kuwait. Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip sided with Iraq. Also, many among the Palestinian community living in Kuwait at the time chanted slogans supportive of the invasion, even urging Saddam to go further and annex Saudi Arabia.
We have witnessed numerous Palestinian insults and slurs targeting the Kingdom’s leadership and its people during Friday sermons in Palestine. This happens despite Saudi Arabia providing the highest level of political and financial support to the Palestinians in the region, as well as the Kingdom launching several initiatives to resolve the Palestinian question. In the past two decades alone, Saudi Arabia has provided $6 billion in support for the Palestinians.
The solution lies in empowering young Palestinian leaders who are dedicated to working politically and diplomatically to finding practical solutions that protect Palestinian rights.
Dr. Mohammed Al-Sulami
Despite all the insults and slander, the Gulf states have continued to support the No. 1 Arab cause. They have not used the disgraceful behavior of the Palestinian leadership as a reason to stop their support.
Not only has the Palestinian leadership expressed its ingratitude to its brothers and supporters, but it has also submitted to the control of its opponents at night, while in the morning seeking political and financial help and support from them. Indeed, the Hamas movement has played this exposed dual role for decades with Turkey, Iran and Qatar, and has adopted the narrow ideology of political Islam at the expense of the Palestinian cause.
Today, the same scenario is recurring in the political dimension. If the military dimension (i.e., the invasion of Kuwait) was repeated, we would see these parties reverting to their previous positions.
In a meeting bringing together Palestinian political leaders this month, Mouin Hamid, the secretary-general of the “Vanguard of the People’s Liberation War of the Thunderbolt Forces,” reportedly called for the opening of communication lines with about 400,000 Palestinians living in the UAE, and with the rest of the Palestinians in the Gulf. This was widely understood to be a call for carrying out reprisal attacks, especially in the UAE, in response to the peace accord between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi.
These provocative remarks were made in the presence of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who did not comment on or condemn them during the meeting. Moreover, he unleashed a tirade of old rhetoric about education and illiteracy while knowing that the Gulf states have managed, to a large extent, to end illiteracy. It seems, however, that Abbas’ mind is full of old stereotypes about the Gulf states.
All these facts invariably lead to the conclusion that the Palestinian political scene cannot be saved under the leadership of this aged and weak political elite.
These insults and the threat to carry out reprisal operations prompted Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Secretary-General Nayef Al-Hajraf to last week issue a first-of-its-kind statement condemning the remarks and calling on the Palestinian leadership to officially apologize.
Through social media platforms, the Gulf’s young generation reacted angrily and denounced Hamid’s remarks. In addition, they expressed their support for the GCC secretary-general’s statement. In response, the Palestinian president issued a weak statement, saying: “We are keen on our relations with Arab countries, and reject any malice toward the figureheads of our brotherly Arab nations.” Even in this statement, Abbas paid no heed to the dangerous remarks threatening terror attacks in the Gulf, neglecting the safety of all Gulf societies.
The just Palestinian cause has been tainted by incompetent proponents. These proponents are elderly politicians and they focus mainly on two things. The first is to profit from the Palestinian cause by filling their bank accounts with wealth and sending their children to live in luxury overseas, as well as piling up vast personal fortunes by misappropriating global aid sent to help the Palestinian people. Their second focus is their own self-glorifying personal legacy, especially as they grow old, which also comes at the expense of the Palestinian people and their cause.
In all of this, the Palestinian leaders avoid the ideas of compromise and realpolitik, refusing to think about practical ways to solve the Palestinian issue.
This behavior is wholly convergent with the Iranian regime’s strategy, which focuses on exploiting the Palestinian cause for the sake of Tehran’s own expansionist project in the region and opposing all proposed resolutions put forward to resolve the Palestinian issue.
The solution to this situation lies in supporting and empowering young Palestinian leaders who are dedicated to working politically and diplomatically to finding practical solutions that protect Palestinian rights.
To conclude, as a national residing in the Gulf, I believe that this disgraceful Palestinian behavior is wholly unconnected with the recent developments because this behavior is continuously apparent during crises and events, and sometimes even without an event taking place.
We must underline that the Palestinian leadership’s fluctuating and volatile positions will not stop the Gulf states from supporting the Palestinian cause, as these states believe such support is essential. However, the current Palestinian position is unacceptable, unjustified and is not open to interpretation.
* Dr. Mohammed Al-Sulami is Head of the International Institute for Iranian Studies (Rasanah). Twitter: @mohalsulami