Saudi Arabia’s evolving relations with Israel and their impact on the Palestinian cause

By Firoz Osman

Saudi Arabia’s normalizing relations with the Zionist colonial entity Israel is a fait accompli and is redolent of the its treacherous history of collaboration with the British that led to the fragmentation of the Ottoman Khalifate.

Then, on February 1945 US President F D Roosevelt met with King Abdul Aziz al Saud resulting with the USA providing military protection in exchange for oil in U.S. dollars.

It was as early as in 2002 that the Saudi regime proposed the Arab Peace Initiative calling for two states in Palestine, one for Jews in the lands occupied in 1948 and the other for the Palestinians in the land occupied in 1967, in return for normalised relations. Israel rejected this proposal as it did all other subsequent peace overtures.

The Saudis were thus willing to abandon more than two-thirds of historic Palestine and essentially condone the ethnic cleansing of the land from pre-1948 to today.

Israel has never made any concessions on territorial or other issues in more than 75 years. And it continues to usurp more Palestinian land under the smokescreen of the so-called “peace process”.

In the meantime, the de facto American and Israeli-backed ruler of Saudi Arabia, Muhammad Bin Salman (MBS) embarked on an unprecedented wave of arrests that rocked the House of Saud, entrenching his rule, imprisoning and killing a number of leading religious leaders, royal family members that opposed him, and Palestinian activists.

MBS told Fox News that, “every day we get closer” to normalising ties with Israel. “We don’t look at Israel as an enemy, we look to them as a potential ally with many interests that we can pursue together”.

MBS’s appalling litany of crimes continues unabated

The brutal dismemberment of the Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi  at its embassy in Istanbul, sawing his body into pieces and dissolving it in acid, shocked the world.

The Saudis propped up the military in a coup against Egypt’s first ever democratically elected president Muhammad Morsi and aided the persecution of the Ikhwan al Muslimeen (Muslim Brotherhood).

They pulverised to smithereens the poorest Arab country Yemen. The Saudis have committed egregious war crimes, impoverished and decimated this country, devastating the land and leaving twenty of its 28 million people near-starvation, with thousands killed.

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri was pressurised by the Saudis to resign with the intention of destabilising Lebanon.

The Saudis imposed a strangulating siege on Qatar attempting to restrict its sovereignty, bullied other members of the Gulf Coordinating Council (GCC), proscribed Al Jazeera television and pushed for a regime change in Doha.

MBS, having lost the war in Syria with its proxies being resoundingly defeated, has attempted with its American and Israeli allies, to confront Hizbullah and Iran.

Moreover, he has imposed severe restrictions on charities operating in the occupied Palestinian territories and the transfer of donations from Saudi citizens for the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Anyone showing any kind of support for the Palestinian cause can expect to be imprisoned or worse.

During the crippling Israeli siege imposed on the Gaza Strip, Saudi Arabia has basically abandoned the Palestinians living there. Saudi Imams are banned from praying for the Palestinians or mentioning them in their supplications in mosques across the Kingdom, especially in Makkah and Madinah.

The Saudi regime has spent millions of dollars to reverse the popularity of the resistance movements and demonise as “terrorists” the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Ansarullah and Hizbullah, often using the sectarian card to vilify Iran of having a “shia” agenda.

Palestinian intellectuals opine that any project with apartheid Israel that is not based within a resistance framework serves to normalize relations.

This resistance framework should be based on recognition of the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people and on the commitment to resist all forms of oppression against Palestinians ending the occupation, establishing full and equal rights for Palestinian citizens of Israel, and promoting and advocating for the right of return for Palestinian refugees.

So long as Israelʼs oppression continues, any engagement with Israelis (individuals or institutions) that is not within the resistance framework, serves to underline the normality of Israeli occupation, colonialism and apartheid in the lives of people in the world. It is, therefore, imperative that people in the world shun all relations with Israelis, unless based on co-resistance.

It is the collaboration of these treacherous Arab regimes with Israel and the West that has made Gaza into a disaster zone, starving its two million people and caused its economy, health sector and infrastructure to collapse.

International supporters of Palestine must refrain from participating in any event that morally or politically equates the oppressor and oppressed and presents the relationship between Palestinians and Israelis as symmetrical .

Such an event should be boycotted because it normalizes Israelʼs colonial domination over Palestinians and ignores the power structures and relations embedded in the oppression.

The example of South Africa elucidates this point perfectly, where reconciliation, dialogue and forgiveness came after the end of apartheid, not before.

The sham of a “ two-state solution, peace-process, reconciliation and normalization”  that does not aim to end Zionist Israeli apartheid, occupation and oppression, is an injustice that prolongs the oppression of the Palestinians.

Perhaps the most perfidious than Saudi treachery is the Palestinian Authority (PA), whose octogenarian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, openly connives with the Zionist Israeli entity to oppress his own people. He unashamedly declared that the PA’s association with Israeli intelligence is “sacred”.

The Saudi custodians of the two holy sanctuaries in Makkah and Medina, viewed by many as illegitimate, normalizing with a brutal racist settler colonial entity that illegally occupies the third sanctuary al Aqsa in Jerusalem, could further destabilize the volatile region.

Firoz Osman is a medical doctor by profession and a highly-respected South African commentator on the Zionist occupation of Palestine. A founding member and executive member of Media Review Network, he has a special interest in Palestinian political and resistance movements, Zionism, and Islamophobia

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