The crown prince and de facto leader of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed Bin Salman, now appears to be parroting Israeli propaganda.
“In the last several decades the Palestinian leadership has missed one opportunity after the other and rejected all the peace proposals it was given. It is about time the Palestinians take the proposals and agree to come to the negotiations table or shut up and stop complaining”,
Bin Salman is reported saying in a closed-door meeting with heads of Jewish organizations in New York on March 27th (Israeli journalist Barak Ravid citing Israeli and American sources).
This phrasing is almost an exact quote of the famous Abba Eban (former Foreign Minister) quip: “The Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity”. That one is attributed to him having said it in the 1973 Geneva peace talks, and has become an iconic and oft used disparaging expression by Zionist apologists, bemoaning a supposed Palestinian intransigence.
This is not particularly surprising, given that Bin Salman has been seeming to grow very close to Israel, recently affirming that the “Jewish people” have a “right” to an “ancestral homeland.” When asked by Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic whether the “Jewish people have a right to a nation-state in at least part of their ancestral homeland?”, Bin Salman answered “I believe that each people, anywhere, has a right to live in their peaceful nation”. Notice, how he is not rejecting Goldberg’s explicitly Zionist and mythological notion of “Jewish people” and their supposed “ancestral homeland”.
Israeli and Saudi interests have converged in the recent years, under the ostensible context of fighting the one arch-enemy – Iran. We have even seen this convergence in the Saudi (and Israeli) assault on Qatar-based Al Jazeera., as part of the Saudi-led isolation of Qatar for its supposed softness on Iran and “terror”.
Iran is now the main villain, in a kind of cold-war setting. Secretary of State John Pompeo was in Riyadh with Bin Salman on Sunday, saying “Iran destabilizes this entire region. It is indeed the greatest sponsor of terrorism in the world, and we are determined to make sure it never possesses a nuclear weapon.” Ben Norton responded on Facebook post:
“Satire has lost all meaning: The former director of the CIA (which has for decades trained and armed far-right terrorist death squads), who is now US secretary of state, called Iran “the greatest sponsor of terrorism in the world” while he was meeting with regime officials in Saudi Arabia, an extremist Wahhabi absolute monarchy that supported ISIS and al-Qaeda.”
Saudi-Israeli exchanges have been going on for some years now, under the table. Yet the recent US-Saudi unprecedented $110-billion military weapons deal has even begun to worry some Israeli leaders – will the Saudis in some way turn them against Israel?
But Bin Salman is apparently assuring everyone that this will not and cannot happen – because he is now revealing himself as a closet-Zionist. Ari Heistein of Jerusalem Post summated the logic three days ago:
“Saudi Arabia has already shown a profound interest in making US President Donald Trump happy, and Trump has shown a deep affinity for Israel – even if Israel cannot offer Saudi Arabia much more than it is currently providing, it is possible that Saudi interests elsewhere could be advanced by establishing diplomatic relations with Israel.”
Bin Salman has been having very close relations with the US, specifically with President Trump’s ‘advisor-in-law’ Jared Kushner. The Intercept had reported recently that he even bragged to his friends about Kushner being ‘in his pocket‘. Bin Salman subsequently denied this, yet still confirmed that “we work together as friends, more than partners”.
Bin Salman is now getting favorable Jewish press for his assault on Yemen. In 2016, a panel of United Nations sanctions monitors in 2016 warned that Saudi-led coalition airstrikes were targeting civilians in a “widespread and systemic manner”; A United Nations Human Rights Council report from September last year detailed more than 5,000 civilian casualties from March 2015 to August 2017. Children accounted for more than 1,000 of the victims. Not all of them were killed by airstrikes, and some died at the hands of Houthi rebels, but the report made clear that the vast majority of civilian casualties were from coalition strikes. Saudi Arabia’s new blockade of Yemen is threatening to exacerbate what the United Nations has deemed the “worst humanitarian crisis in the world.”
So this could all look bad for Bin Salman, if it weren’t for the US support, and the constant fixing of the gaze towards Iran. The Saudi blockade is also comparable in many ways to Israel’s blockade on Gaza, and if the Saudi siege can be framed as a necessary and legitimate act against “terror”, that harmonises with legitimising Israel’s siege on Gaza.
And why not become a Zionist if it gives all those prizes? Why not throw the Palestinians under the “Jewish state” bus?
This is an Arab leader, effectively affirming “Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish State”, which is exactly what Prime Minister Netanyahu has demanded to be affirmed in peace talks with Palestinians since his second-term election in 2009.
Norman Finkelstein writes on this:
“The demand that Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state lacks both precedent and sense. Neither Egypt nor Jordan recognized Israel as a Jewish state when they signed peace treaties with it. It figures neither in the text of the Oslo agreement nor in Bush’s 2003 Roadmap for Peace. In addition, Palestinians would be hard-pressed to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, when no two Israelis agree on who is a Jew, let alone what is a Jewish state. If Israel were truly invested in such recognition, it could simply rechristen itself the Jewish State of Israel, just as the mullahs, after the 1979 revolution, rechristened Iran the Islamic Republic of Iran. The recognition of Israel (a Rubicon that Palestinians crossed long ago) would then go hand-in-hand with recognition of its “Jewishness.” If Israel hasn’t taken this step, it’s because the 20 percent of non-Jewish Israelis would be outraged, as would be the (dwindling number of) resolute Israeli liberals. Perversely, Netanyahu insists that Palestinians do what Israel itself won’t do. In a revealing contrast, whereas every Tom, Dick and Shlomo is now weighing in on whether Palestinians, for the sake of peace, should recognize Israel as a Jewish state, one searches in vain for op-eds on whether Israel, for the sake of peace, should recognize its 1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.”
Israel is, in fact, seeking to ‘rechristen’ itself, in a way, as the “Nation State of the Jewish People”, as the name of its discussed quasi-constitutional base-law goes. But that law is just more Apartheid with a veil. The ‘Jewish state’ claim is how Zionism has tried to mask its intrinsic Apartheid, under the veil of a supposed ‘self-determination of the Jewish people’, and for the Palestinians it has meant their dispossession. This is why they generally reject affirmation of this principle – it would simply hand in ideological points to their colonizers.
And Bin Salman has now handed such points to Zionists.
But back to his recent claim that “in the last several decades the Palestinian leadership has missed one opportunity after the other and rejected all the peace proposals it was given”.
A main “opportunity” nearly two decades ago is the famous 2000 Camp David peace talks, between then Prime Minister Ehud Barak and PLO leader Yasser Arafat, mediated, as it were, by US President Bill Clinton. After the negotiations broke, Barak had gone off declaring that he had made a “generous offer” and that since it was rejected, that meant that there is “no partner for peace”. This claim has been a defining factor in the Israeli left (as Barak is known as a leftist, liberal-Zionist ‘hero’), and is a critical factor in the general weakening of the Israeli left in the past two decades, where it often becomes a parrot of the right.
The problem with Barak’s statement, which is in itself a paraphrase on the “missing opportunities” notion, is that it is false. Historical analysis of the “generous offer” reveals that it amounted to Bantustans.
At the time, Israel was trying to inculcate the Hasbara idea that the Palestinians were being offered 96% of the West Bank plus Gaza. Some were seeing partially through this, as for example The Guardian’s diplomatic editor Ewen MacAskill:
“The Israelis portrayed it as the Palestinians receiving 96% of the West Bank. But the figure is misleading. The Israelis did not include parts of the West Bank they had already appropriated”, he wrote.
That was a grave understatement. As MIT professor Jeremy Pressman notes in his essay on the matter, “the total Palestinian land share of the West Bank would have been closer to 77 percent for the first six to twenty-one years”. An additional 10% would supposedly have come in after those “six to twenty-one years” from the Jordan Valley – but to judge from Israel’s failure to withdraw within 5 years from areas agreed to after 1995 Oslo Accords, this ‘promise’ did not bode well either. (This matter is also summated by Nigel Perry in Electronic Intifada, 2002).
Anyhow, Foreign Minister under Barak’s government, Shlomo Ben Ami, has confessed outright:
“If I were a Palestinian I would have rejected Camp David, as well”, he said.
The Saudis have brokered an ‘Arab Peace Initiative’ in 2002, where Arab League collectively offered Israel recognition of its right to exist and a normalization of diplomatic ties in exchange for its complete withdrawal from Arab lands captured since 1967 as well as a “fair solution” for the Palestinian refugees. This is a proposal based on international consensus rooted in UNSC resolution 242 of 1967, and it has been endorsed by the 57 member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, including Iran.
Israel can apparently not accept such an offer, and apart from some polite diplomatic lip tax, it has been largely ignored. But the plan speaks of normalization “in exchange”, while Bin Salman has been showing many signs of offering Israel the normalization, without the exchange.
Bin Salman’s expressions of solidarity with Zionists come at a time of an unprecedented assault on Palestinian statehood, symbolized by the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel (and not Palestine) and to move its embassy there next month. And he is now apparently willing to parrot Zionist propaganda, disparage the Palestinians and say they should “shut up” and accept the Israeli ‘generous offers’ (that is, surrender to the Bantustan model), because it can advance his goals.
That, my friends, is how Palestinians are being sold out by Arab despots. And if you don’t like it, you should just “shut up and stop complaining”.