Younger Saudis See Palestinian Statehood as a Threat

While Saudi Arabia’s King Salman seems to trust his son, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, with most policy decisions, the two seem to differ when it comes to the Palestinians: the king’s statements seem much more supportive of their position than the prince’s. This difference, writes Haisam Hassanein, reflects a deeper generational divide in Saudi public opinion. (Free registration required.)

Older Saudis grew up in the 1950s and 1960s during the heyday of Arab nationalism, and its embrace of the Palestinian cause. . . . While the Saudis never fully embraced Arab nationalism, they adopted the Palestinian cause to preempt attacks . . . from their arch-opponents, Arab nationalists. . . . However, the younger generations, characterized and led by Mohammad bin Salman and his close ally Mohamed bin Zayed—the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and the primary driver of the United Arab Emirates’ foreign policy—[don’t share this view]. . . .

[The two princes] realize that Palestinians in general are not . . . supporters of Saudi and Emirati interests with regard to checking the power of political Shiite Islamists, most notably Iran, and Sunni political Islamists, primarily the Muslim Brotherhood. . . . [O]ver the last few years, their position has been increasingly adopted first by younger elites and then more broadly, not least as Saudi Arabia itself has come under missile attack from Iranian proxies. . . .

[T]he younger Gulf generations . . . believe it is [most] likely that a fully independent Palestinian state would itself be hostage to radical forces and would in fact become an extreme source of instability in the region. [Indeed, the two princes] believe that establishing a Palestinian state would mean handing Iran and Sunni political Islamists another Arab capital to control and influence. Iranian influence among Palestinian groups has solidified over the years, and the crown princes’ assessment is that it is irreversible. [They] are not foolish enough to lobby for and fund the establishment of a state that would most certainly be an Iranian client state. . . .

Despite this, many Western policymakers still fantasize about the idea that the Gulf countries could provide money to create and develop a Palestinian state—indeed, this is reportedly one of the founding principles of the Trump-Kushner peace plan. That is never going to happen. Those who actively dictate policy in the Gulf are convinced that every dollar the Saudis give to the Palestinians will ultimately go to Iran. The Saudis and Emirates are likely to promise to provide financial assistance in public, but U.S. policymakers should not believe that they would ever deliver when push really comes to shove.

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Read more at Haaretz

More about: Mohammad bin Salman, Palestinian statehood, Politics & Current Affairs, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates

 

Condemning Terrorism in Jerusalem—and Efforts to Stop It

Jan. 30 2023

On Friday night, a Palestinian opened fire at a group of Israelis standing outside a Jerusalem synagogue, killing seven and wounding several others. The day before, the IDF had been drawn into a gunfight in the West Bank city of Jenin while trying to arrest members of a terrorist cell. Of the nine Palestinians killed in the raid, only one appears to have been a noncombatant. Lahav Harkov compares the responses to the two events, beginning with the more recent:

President Joe Biden called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to denounce the attack, offer his condolences, and express his commitment to Israel’s security. Other leaders released supportive statements as well. Governments across Europe condemned the attack. Turkey’s foreign ministry did the same, as did Israel’s Abraham Accords partners the UAE and Bahrain. Even Saudi Arabia released a statement against the killing of civilians in Jerusalem.

It feels wrong to criticize those statements. . . . But the condemnations should be full-throated, not spoken out of one side of the mouth while the other is wishy-washy about what it takes to stave off terrorism. These very same leaders and ministries were tsk-tsking at Israel for doing just that only a day before the attacks in Jerusalem.

The context didn’t seem to matter to some countries that are friendly to Israel. It didn’t matter that Israel was trying to stop jihadists from attacking civilians; it didn’t matter that IDF soldiers were attacked on the way.

It’s very easy for some to be sad when Jews are murdered. Yet, at the same time, so many of them are uncomfortable with Jews asserting themselves, protecting themselves, arming themselves against the bloodthirsty horde that would hand out bonbons to celebrate their deaths. It’s a reminder of how important it is that we do just that, and how essential the state of Israel is.

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Read more at Lahav’s Newsletter

More about: Jerusalem, Palestinian terror