Soldier murdered in Arad; PM vows to bring terrorist to justice
Nahal Brigade Sgt. Ron Yitzhak Kokia
Nahal Brigade Sgt. Ron Yitzhak Kokia, 19, from Tel Aviv, was stabbed to death on Thursday in a terrorist attack in the southern Israeli city of Arad. A manhunt was underway on Friday as the terrorist was still at large.
Magen David Adom paramedics were called to one of the city’s bus stations at 9:30 p.m. Thursday, where Kokia was found unconscious with apparent stab wounds to his upper torso. All attempts to resuscitate him failed and he was pronounced dead at the scene.
“When we arrived, we found a young man lying unconscious on the road,” one paramedic recounted. “He was not breathing and had no pulse. There were stab wounds to his upper torso.”
According to available details, Kokia was visiting a nearby shopping center when he was attacked. His assailant stabbed him multiple times and fled the scene. Kokia was able to stumble outside to look for help before collapsing on the road nearby. A driver passing by stopped to help him and called the paramedics.
The Southern District Police set up roadblocks throughout the city, but the terrorist has not yet been apprehended.
A police statement said that “police forces, including special forces, canvassed the area where the attack took place in Arad and are also carrying out overt and covert intelligence operations to locate the suspect, who fled the scene.
“We believe this was a nationalistically-motivated incident,” the statement continued. “The police are working with other security forces with the necessary speed and caution to advance the investigation.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to bring the terrorist to justice.
“Security forces are working now to apprehend the terrorists. We will bring them to justice and we will continue to fight terrorism with all our might,” he wrote on Facebook, offering condolences to Kokia’s family.
“May Ron’s memory be a blessing. We will cherish him in our hearts always,” the prime minister added.
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman tweeted, “Security forces will not rest until they lay their hands on the terrorist who murdered Kokia.”
President Reuven Rivlin issued a statement of condolences to the soldier’s family, saying “I’m shocked and saddened by the terrible murder of Ron Yitzhak Kokia in a terrorist attack in Arad. Terrorism will not be allowed to rear its head and we will fight it with determination and force.
“I offer the grieving family my deepest condolences and offer security forces my support as they hunt down the terrorists and their collaborators,” he said.
“This is a difficult morning for our city,” Arad Mayor Nissan Ben-Hemo said. “Police forces are deployed across Arad in search of the suspect. I ask all resident to be vigilant, but we must maintain normalcy.”
Kokia will be laid to rest on Sunday at the Kiryat Shaul Military Cemetery. (Israel Hayom)
151 UN states vote to disavow Israeli ties to Jerusalem
The UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to disavow Israeli ties to Jerusalem as part of six anti-Israel resolutions it approved on Thursday in New York. The vote was 151 in favor and six against, with nine abstentions.
The resolution came as the Trump Administration was rumored to be actively considering relocating its embassy to Jerusalem.
“The president has said that he has given serious consideration to the matter, and we’re looking at it with great care,” US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.
She added that US President Donald Trump had until December 4th to make a decision on the embassy relocation or waive the matter for another six months.
In New York, only six countries out of 193 UN member states fully supported Israel’s ties Jerusalem: Canada, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, the United States and Israel itself.
The nine countries who abstained were: Australia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Honduras, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, South Sudan and Togo.
The resolution stated that “any actions taken by Israel, the occupying Power, to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the Holy City of Jerusalem are illegal and therefore null and void and have no validity whatsoever.”
These words fall in line with similar resolutions approved in 2015 and 2016 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organizations (UNESCO), including the resolution’s omission of the title “Temple Mount,” using instead only the Arabic term for the site, “Haram al-Sharif.”
The UNGA’s Jerusalem resolution called for “respect for the historic status quo at the holy places of Jerusalem, including the Haram al-Sharif, in word and practice.”
But the UNESCO votes are taken in smaller committees or boards and do not have the same representative power as the UNGA to measure the global opinion of UN member states.
The voting patterns of many of Israel’s allies, particularly among the EU nations, also differ in New York. The same countries that oppose or abstain from anti-Israel votes at UNESCO or the UN Human Rights Council often support such texts at the UNGA.
On Thursday, all the EU member states voted against Israel and in favor of the Jerusalem resolution, including countries that abstained or opposed the same text at UNESCO.
In a statement to the UNGA after the vote, the EU warned it would change its stance on such texts in the future unless the language was more neutral.
“The EU stresses the need for language on the holy sites of Jerusalem to reflect the importance and historical significance of the holy sites for the three monotheistic religions,” the Estonian representative said on behalf of the EU.
“The future choice of language may effect the EU’s collective support for the resolution,” she added.
Mexico also voted against Israel with regard to the Jerusalem resolution, even though Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had just lauded the country for its support of Israel at the UN.
Kenya, which recently hosted Netanyahu, also voted against the resolution with regard to Jerusalem on Thursday.
Israel’s representative at the meeting said the omission of Judaism’s holiest site, the Temple Mount, was deliberate and yet “another instance of the Palestinian refusal to recognize the proven historic connection between Judaism, Christianity and the Temple Mount.”
The US opposed the resolutions. Its representative expressed disappointment that despite supposed support for reform, UN members continued to single out Israel.
This year alone, he said, the UN’s bodies have approved 18 resolutions that were biased against Israel.
“This dynamic is unacceptable. It is inappropriate that the UN, an institution founded on the idea that all nations should be treated equally, should be so often used by member states to treat another state so unequally,” he said.
The UNSG on Thursday also approved a second resolution that condemned Israeli settlement activity and called upon it to withdraw to the pre-1967 line. This included leaving the Golan Heights, which Israel seized from Syria during the Six-Day War.
Some 157 nations voted in favor of the text, seven opposed it and eight abstained.
All the European Union’s member states voted to support the resolution. The abstaining countries included: Australia, Cameroon, Fiji, Honduras, Paraguay, Papa, New Guinea, South Sudan and Tongo.
Those nations opposing the resolution were: Canada, Israel, Nauru, Micronesia, Marshal Islands, Solomon Islands and the United States.
Among the six resolutions was one, sponsored by Syria, which condemned Israel’s continued presence on the Golan Heights.
It was approved with 105 nations in favor, six against and 58 who abstained.
Israel noted the absurdity of such a resolution at a time when the Syrian regime was using chemical weapons against its own citizens while Israel was treating the wounded of that conflict who managed to cross its borders.
The UN General Assembly is expected to approve another ten anti-Israel resolutions by the end of the year. (Jerusalem Post)
Israeli aircraft struck an Iranian base outside Damascus
Israeli aircraft attacked an Iranian base outside Damascus according to Sky News.
According to foreign media reports, the Israeli fire was carried out from Lebanese airspace. The reports said that in response anti aircraft missiles were fired on the plane.
In the past, Israel has reportedly carried out attacks against Syrian convoys and installations, in order to prevent Syria from transferring sophisticated weapons to Iran’s local proxy Hezbollah.
Recently, Israeli officials have said that the IDF would not allow Iran to establish a military foothold within 40 Kilometers of the border.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has told Israel that Moscow has agreed to expand a buffer zone along the Israeli-Syrian border, where Iranian and Hezbollah forces will not be allowed to enter. The statement attributed to an Israeli diplomatic official by London-based Asharq Al-Awsat, said Russia had refused the Israeli request for a 40 kilometers (25 miles) buffer zone, but expressed willingness to extend a 10-15 kilometer off-limits zone.
In September the BBC news agency reported that Iran had established a military base at a Syrian army site south of the capital of Damascus. According to the report, which is based on a western intelligence source, the base is some 50 kilometers north of Israel’s Golan Heights and has several buildings which likely house soldiers and military vehicles.
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has repeatedly warned of Iranian entrenchment in the war-torn country, saying in mid-November that Israel “will simply not allow for Shiite consolidation and Iranian entrenchment in Syria nor will we allow Syria to become a forward operating base against the State of Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
Arab media: 12 Iranians killed in ‘Israeli strike’ in Syria
Twelve Iranian military personnel were killed in an alleged Israeli air strike on an Iranian base in Syria Friday night, Arabic media reported Saturday.
According to reports on Lebanon’s Al-Mustaqbal TV and the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya network, accounts on the Telegram messaging app tied to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps have been reporting 12 fatalities, while also reporting the names of those killed.
There has been no official confirmation of fatalities by either Syrian or Iranian authorities.
Syria’s state-run news agency reported Israel fired several missiles at a military post near the Syrian capital of Damascus early on Saturday, causing damage.
SANA, the state news agency, claimed Syrian air defenses shot down two of the Israeli missiles.
Arab media reports said Israel fired missiles at a military base Iran has been building near the Syrian city of al-Qiswa, reportedly destroying an arms depot.
Some media outlets affiliated with the Assad regime and Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah initially reported that Israeli warplanes targeted an ammunition bunker belonging to the Syrian Army. But other media outlets reported that the target was a military base that Iran is building in the area, 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the Israeli border, and that loud explosions were heard after the attack.
There was no immediate official Israeli comment. Israel does not, as a rule, comment on reported strikes in Syria.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned in a video clip published Saturday night that Israel would not tolerate an Iranian military presence in Syria.
The video was recorded Thursday, before the alleged strike, and is set to air in full on Sunday at the Brookings Institution’s annual Saban Forum in Washington, DC. But the Prime Minister’s Office saw fit to put out the short clip relating to Iranian presence in Syria on Saturday evening.
“Let me reiterate Israel’s policy: We will not allow a regime hell-bent on the annihilation of the Jewish state to acquire nuclear weapons. We will not allow that regime to entrench itself militarily in Syria, as it seeks to do, for the express purpose of eradicating our state,” said Netanyahu.
The alleged Israeli attack came three weeks after the BBC reported that Iran was building a permanent military base in Syria just south of Damascus.
The British broadcaster commissioned a series of satellite pictures that showed widespread construction at the site.
Satellite image of alleged Iranian base in Syria. (Airbus, Digital Globe and McKenzie Intelligence Services/BBC)
Israel has long warned that Iran is trying to establish a permanent presence in Syria as part of its efforts to control a land corridor from Iran through to the Mediterranean Sea as it attempts to expand its influence across the Middle East.
Netanyahu has said often that Israel will not allow Iran to establish a permanent presence in Syria, and was reported last week to have sent a warning to this effect via a third party to Syrian President Bashar Assad. (the Times of Israel)
Official: Trump likely to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital Wednesday
President Donald Trump is likely to announce Wednesday that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a senior administration official said on Friday, a move that would upend decades of American policy and possibly inflame tensions in the Middle East.
Secretary-General of the PLO Executive Committee and chief negotiator with Israel Saeb Erekat said, “Any American recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel will bring about the end of the Jerusalem issue. This issue is weighty and dealing with it is playing with fire.”
Nabil Abu Rdainah, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would “destroy the peace process” and “destabilize the region.”
Trump could make the controversial declaration in a speech on Wednesday though he is also expected to again delay his campaign promise to move the US embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. The senior official and two other government sources said final decisions had not yet been made.
Visiting Washington this week, Jordan’s King Abdullah warned lawmakers that moving the US embassy could be “exploited by terrorists to stoke anger, frustration and desperation,” according to the Jordanian state news agency Petra.
Israel, meanwhile, estimated the chances of Trump announcing US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in the coming days and saying he would commence preparations to move the embassy to Jerusalem were very high.
Vice President Mike Pence provided support for the above estimate, speaking at an event commemorating the 70th anniversary of the United Nations’ vote calling for the establishment of a Jewish state. Pence said Trump was actively considering “when and how” to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Israel also received information saying Trump was apprehensive about not signing the traditional six-month waiver overriding a 1995 law requiring that the US embassy be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Trump’s apprehension, the information alleged, stemmed from internal American political considerations relating to pressures exerted on the president by Republican Party officials and Evangelical Christians.
Official American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital as a gesture for Israel’s 70th anniversary may thusly ameliorate the anger Trump would face if any further delay in transferring the embassy took place. (Ynet News)
German government refuses to certify Dead Sea scrolls belong to Israel
Israel pulled out of a planned exhibit of the Dead Sea scrolls in Frankfurt because the German government would not guarantee their return if claimed by Palestinians.
The Frankfurt Bible Museum announced that it has canceled the exhibit scheduled for a September 2019 opening. Its director, Jürgen Schefzyk, said he regretted the German government’s decision, adding that neither Holland nor Austria would have hesitated to issue general immunity guarantees.
According to German news reports, the government guarantee, had it been issued, would have blocked Palestinian or Jordanian authorities from contesting the provenance of the scrolls, which are among the oldest known texts related to the Hebrew Bible.
Twelve years ago, Germany became the first country to exhibit a segment of the scrolls outside the Middle East, according to James Snyder, then director of the Israel Museum.
The first scrolls in the cache were discovered in 1946 by Bedouins in the West Bank, which since 1967 has been under Israel’s control. In 2010, the Jordanian antiquities department demanded the return of some of the scrolls, which it said Israel had taken illegally from a museum there in the 1967 war.
The Frankfurt Bible Museum, which is largely funded by a local Protestant umbrella organization, reportedly has worked closely with Israeli Antiquities Authority officials for years. Before lending the scrolls, Israel required a guarantee from Germany that they would be returned.
Boris Rhein, the culture minister from the state of Hesse, told German news agencies that the German Foreign Ministry and federal commissioner for cultural affairs considered the ownership of the scrolls to be unclear. Rhein said he would have gladly issued the guarantee himself, if he could.
Frankfurt’s director of cultural affairs, Ina Hartwig, said the cancellation was an “emotional disappointment” and lost opportunity.
A segment of the scrolls was displayed in Berlin’s Martin Gropius-Bau Museum in 2005 as part of an exhibit honoring 40 years of diplomatic relations between Germany and the Jewish state.
At the time, Snyder called the scrolls “a kind of ‘Mona Lisa’ for us,” adding that he was “proud of its first voyage away from Israel.” (the Times of Israel)
by Ron Weiser
The anniversaries continue.
And more than a few involve Australia, and in a significant way.
Just having come off the high of the centenary of Beersheva in Israel, this week we celebrated 70 years since the historic United Nations vote on partition known as Resolution 181.
In particular, at a function in Parliament House in Canberra hosted by the Chair of the Australia-Israel Parliamentary Friendship Group, Senator David Fawcett, we marked Australia’s role in ensuring 181 came into being.
Australia’s role was critical in the passing of this resolution and in the lead up to it.
The Australian Minister for External Affairs, Doc H.V. Evatt, in effect played a masterful chess game with UNSCOP – the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine.
UNSCOP was the final committee set up to discuss the vacuum to be left by the British decision to leave Palestine and was made up of representatives of 11 countries – Australia, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Guatemala, India, Iran, The Netherlands, Peru, Sweden, Uruguay, Yugoslavia.
7 countries voted for the Jewish preferred solution of partition, 3 supported the option of a one state solution (a position rejected by both Jews and Arabs) and only 1 country – Australia – abstained. The idea was to give Australia a leading role as it was the only country to remain “neutral”.
The UNSCOP majority view stated:
“Only by means of partition can these conflicting national aspirations find substantial expression and qualify both peoples to take their places as independent nations in the international community and in the United Nations.”
Evatt was both a genius and a risk taker – but his strategy worked.
On the 29th of November 1947. The United Nations approved the Partition plan by 33 votes to 13 with 10 abstentions.
That is, the “two states for two peoples” plan came into being.
A plan that for 70 years Israel has accepted and the Arabs have rejected.
This month also marks a year since Donald Trump was elected President of the United States.
And we await what is apparently imminent, his plan for the Middle East.
For 70 years the world powers have pretty much stuck with their goal of two states for two peoples. The main argument they have had with the players was about who to blame for its non implementation.
Israel, remaining faithful to the principle as an end game, and having made successive offers, including with detailed maps, feels that it has been mugged by experience.
Many examples abound, but for instance, in the year 2000 the United Nations delineated the “Blue Line” which is the internationally recognised border between Israel and Lebanon under UN Security Council Resolution 425. Israel at some points moved its front lines by mere metres to comply. The problem is that Hezbollah which does not respect any such border, repeatedly violates it with acts of terror and missiles.
Ceding of territory such as the disengagement from Gaza in 2005, have been met by terrorism and again, savage missile attacks.
Syria is in effect a forward Iranian line approaching Israel’s borders without the US being troubled enough to intervene, leaving Russia as the king maker there.
In parallel, the general map of influence in the Middle East has radically changed with failed states, fluid borders and leaders with tenuous grips on power. In many cases, these leaders only holding on by use of their military against their own people as the Sunni and Shi’ite worlds go to war.
The Palestinians are in a way, victims too – both as minnows in the larger Moslem divisions and of their own leadership.
Remarkably Israel continues to stand alone as a beacon of democracy, stability, human rights and at the same time, bringing increasing prosperity to her people.
40 years ago Sadat came to Israel and addressed the Knesset.
Today the Palestinian leadership expects Israel to take as a confidence building measure and an example of their desire for peace, the payment of stipends and pensions to the families of terrorists who they incite to commit despicable acts of murder and injury against Israeli citizens.
So, against this backdrop what will President Trump propose?
Will he stick to the two state plan plus or minus, drop it entirely, suggest something radically new?
Because Trump emphasises at the moment that he is not imposing anything but is only reflecting what all sides are proposing, it is safest to assume that some form of the two state idea will be the basis for his proposals.
He is clever enough to make all parties feel loved.
To Israel, US ambassador David Friedman, relays the warmth and understanding Trump feels for her and continually assures the Israeli people of what a reliable friend he will be.
On Tuesday this week, US Vice President again brought out a sweetener saying Trump is “actively considering” moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem.
But at what price?
In any case, a day later the White House press secretary said: “This is a premature report. We have nothing to announce.”
Kushner, depending on who you believe, has a much reduced role and influence today in the Trump administration with an almost exclusive focus now on the Middle East, and he seems to be carrying Trump’s messages to the Saudis.
Greenblatt on the other hand appears to be the main conduit to the Palestinians.
When the State Department announced it was closing the PLO office in Washington, the Palestinian Authority threatened to cut ties with the US and Trump reversed the earlier decision and kept the office open.
King Abdullah II of Jordan, a person who has great influence on Trump and an open door to all Administration officials, spent the week in the US with one main message – without a Palestinian State there would be “violent unrest in the Middle East” and he called on the US “to intensify efforts to relaunch serious and effective negotiations based on the two-state solution”.
All of this one can presume is pre “The Deal” jockeying. The game is unchanged, everyone is trying to please Trump before the deal is made public in order to try and have as much of their viewpoint included.
Post presentation, the game will be about not getting blamed for collapsing it. Should that happen.
Perhaps the most interesting event this month was the Israeli Chief of the IDF’s interview in the Saudi press to an Arab journalist. Gadi Eisenkot almost never gives interviews in the Israeli press and is known for not giving interviews to the foreign press. So, this was highly significant.
Whatever the Arab world thinks of Israeli political leaders, they greatly respect her military ones.
The young and rising prince in Saudi Arabia wanted to tell his people about the rapidly increasing dangers of Iran and her tentacles spreading over the Middle East – and therefore the urgency of the newly openly assertive Saudi foreign policy. Who better to reinforce this and confirm the facts than a credible figure in the Arab world like Eisenkot.
The increasingly public relationship between Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel may go everywhere and nowhere.
For Trump, the question is can the wanna be deal maker give enough of something to everyone?
Which also means convincing the participants that what they give up will be worth the price externally and at the same time, sellable internally to their respective audiences.
Airstrike on Iranian base in Syria raises questions
by Seth Frantzman The Jerusalem Post
In the early hours of December 2 reports claimed that a base or ammunition warehouse south of Damascus had been hit by missiles from an airstrike. Foreign media has alleged that Israel was behind that strike.
However, unlike previous airstrikes on Syria, some of which Israel has taken credit for, this one was conducted against a site that was well known. It raises questions as to the timing of the attack and what it was meant to achieve. Why did it take so long to target the facility and in whose interest was it to reveal the facility to the public? First, let’s look at the timeline of events in November that led to the attack.
For more than a year there have been warnings that Iran was intent on constructing permanent bases in Syria, laying the groundwork for the era after ISIS was defeated. On November 10 the BBC released a report that Iran was “building permanent military base in Syria.” The report had three satellite images with it, from January, May and October, showing a site near El-Kiswah south of Damascus. It was about 50km from Israeli forces on the Golan. The changes at the site showed new buildings and the BBC ascribed the information to a “western intelligence source.”
The report came out the day that Russian President Vladimir Putin met US President Donald Trump in Danang, Vietnam. It also came out two days after a Memorandum of Principles had been concluded in Amman between the US, Russia and Jordan regarding a ceasefire in southern Syria. This ceasefire had originally been inked in July, despite Israeli objections to the presence of Iranian-backed forces in southern Syria. Fred Hof, a former State Department special advisor for transition in Syria, told Foreign Policy that the agreement was supposed to remove foreign fighters from the area. “This could be designed mainly to reassure the Israelis that these elements would not be operating in proximity to the Golan Heights.”
According to reports Israel wanted assurances that Iranian forces would be kept 60km from the Golan. Two days after the revelations of the Iranian base at El-Kiswah, a US State Department official indicated to Israeli media that the ceasefire memorandum would include the removal of Iranian forces from areas near the Golan. Three days later, on November 14, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the agreement did not promise to withdraw Iranian-backed forces.
The next day Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman responded that “with regards to Iran, we will simply not allow for Shi’ite consolidation and Iranian entrenchment in Syria, nor will we allow Syria to become a forward operating base against the State of Israel.” On the weekend of November 20th the foreign ministers of Russia, Iran and Turkey met in Antalya in the lead up to a major summit in Sochi on November 22 hosted by Putin which included Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
On November 26th the Kuwaiti newspaper reported that Israel had demanded Iranian facilities be kept 40 km away from the Golan. It also claimed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had sent a warning to Syrian President Bashar Assad. In an interview with Ynet Liberman sought to downplay the Iranian presence in Syria, saying Iran was not on Israel’s border.
This was followed by the airstrike on December 2. According to al-Masdar News, which is generally seen as pro-Syrian regime “Israel fired several missiles into western Syria tonight, targeting several sites near the Iranian base in the El-Kiswah area.” Russia Today also reported the airstrike and quotes Syrian media as saying they struck “military positions.” According to Press TV, which represents the Iranian government view, a source said that “an Israeli fighter jet was flying at a low altitude over Lebanon’s Baalbek region near Syria’s border when Syrian missiles were launched.” The report went on, claiming that “Israeli missiles were fired toward the 1st Division ammo depot in the western countryside of Damascus.”
The attack raises several questions. Why wait so long to strike the Iranian base? What did “western intelligence sources” hope to accomplish by publishing information on the Iranian base? Why were the Iranians at the site given time to leave by their base becoming so public? The month’s activity appear to be part of a complex game being waged by Iran to entrench itself in Syria and Israel’s attempts to warn the Iranians off. Whatever was taking place at El-Kiswah had plenty of time to be wrapped up and moved if the Iranians were concerned about it being struck. If the reports about Israel’s threats to target sites between 40-60km from the Golan are accurate then it would indicate that the warnings have been manifested.
Saudis Fed Up: “Palestinians Milking Us for Decades”
by Bassam Tawil The Gatestone Institute
Like most Arab countries, the Saudis too have finally realized that the Palestinians are ungrateful and untrustworthy. Saudi Arabia and most of the Arab countries are obviously fed up with the recurring attempts by the Palestinians to blackmail them and extort money from them.
The Palestinians are crying Wolf, Wolf! — but only a few in the Arab world are listening to them. This, in a way, is encouraging and offers hope for them finally to be released from decades of repressive and corrupt governance.
These are just some of the challenges Saudi Crown Prince is facing. It is important to support him in the face of attacks by some Palestinians and other spoilers.
A young Saudi man has posted videos on social media in which he calls the Palestinians “dogs” and “pigs.” The man says that Saudi Arabia has provided the ungrateful Palestinians with “billions of dollars” during the past few decades. “The Palestinians,” the Saudi man charges, “have been milking us for decades.”
The videos, which have since gone viral, have understandably drawn strong condemnations from Palestinians, who say they would not have been made public without the tacit approval of the Saudi authorities. For the Palestinians, the abusive videos represent yet another sign of increased tensions in their relations with Saudi Arabia.
Further evidence of Saudi disdain for the Palestinians was provided in a video posted by Saudi Arabia featuring a Palestinian gunman as a terrorist.
Last July, the Saudi ambassador to Algeria, Sami Saleh, shocked many Palestinians when he described Hamas as a terror group. Hamas responded by saying that such remarks were “harmful to Saudi Arabia and its record and stances towards the Palestinian cause and the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.”
The apparent shift in Saudi Arabia’s position towards the Palestinians should not come as a surprise. Like most Arab countries, the Saudis too have finally realized that the Palestinians are ungrateful and untrustworthy. Saudi Arabia and most of the Arab countries are obviously fed up with the recurring attempts by the Palestinians to blackmail them and extort money from them.
Saudi Arabia and most of the Arab countries are obviously fed up with the recurring attempts by the Palestinians to blackmail them and extort money from them. Pictured: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas embraces Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, December 30, 2015. (Photo by Thaer Ghanaim/Palestinian Press Office via Getty Images)
The Palestinians were ungrateful to Kuwait when they supported Saddam Hussein’s invasion of the tiny emirate in 1990. Kuwait was one of the wealthy Arab countries that used to give the Palestinians millions of dollars in aid. The Palestinians were ungrateful to Lebanon, a country that opened its doors to them and allowed the PLO to create its own state within Lebanon. The Palestinians played an important role in tearing the country apart and brought disaster and death to Lebanon, until they were finally expelled in 1982.
Before that, in Jordan, in the armed conflict known as “Black September” (1970-71), the Palestinians did the same thing until the late King Hussein ordered his army to eradicate the PLO and all the terror groups in the country.
Now, the Palestinians are being disrespectful towards Saudi Arabia — a country that has provided them with billions of dollars over the past few decades. It is no wonder, then, that a growing number of Saudis are beginning to voice their disgust for the way the Palestinians are behaving and talking.
The Palestinians seek to continue holding Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Arab countries hostage. In fact, the Palestinians wish to retain their death grip against Israel at the cost of their Arab brethren. Any Arab who dares to challenge the Palestinians is denounced as a traitor and a Zionist.
Palestinian officials say that Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, who visited Saudi Arabia in early November, left the kingdom with a bad taste in his mouth. A senior Palestinian official was quoted as saying that Abbas feels that Saudi Arabia and some Arab countries are would like to see him removed from power and replaced with someone who would be more acceptable to the Americans and Israelis.
The Palestinians believe that Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, is personally spearheading his country’s rapprochement with Israel. Some of them are even convinced that it is only a matter of time before Saudi Arabia and Israel establish diplomatic ties as part of a peace treaty.
The general feeling among the Palestinian public is that their Saudi brothers have decided to “throw them under the bus” by signing a peace treaty with Israel. The Palestinians claim that Saudi Arabia has accepted the Trump administration’s “ultimate solution” for peace in the Middle East — a plan the details of which remain largely unknown, but is said to promote peace between the Arab countries and Israel before the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is solved. Their biggest fear is that once Saudi Arabia embarks on such a dramatic move, many other Arab countries will follow suit, leaving the Palestinians isolated in the international arena and abandoned by their Arab brethren.
The Palestinian Authority, however, is keen not to be seen as taking a public stance against a powerful and wealthy country such as Saudi Arabia. In an attempt to defuse tensions between Saudi Arabia and the Palestinians, some Palestinian officials have come out in defense of the kingdom.
Mahmoud Al-Assadi, the PA Consul-General in Jeddah, for example, said that reports claiming that Saudi Arabia was headed towards normalizing its relations with Israel were false and based on malicious rumors. “Saudi Arabia’s position towards the Palestinian cause and people is historic and consistent,” Al-Assadi said in an interview. “The Saudi leadership has repeatedly made it clear that there will be no normalization with Israel until the Palestinian issue is solved.”
The PA ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Bassam Al-Agha, has also taken pains to exonerate the kingdom from the “allegation” that it is seeking to normalize its relations with Israel. In an interview with a Saudi newspaper, Al-Agha heaped praise on Saudi Arabia for its continued support for the Palestinians. The Palestinians, he added, “Will always remember Saudi Arabia’s generosity, hospitality and support.”
The public statements of Palestinian officials, however, stand in jolting contrast with the sentiments of the Palestinian public, which seems to be overtly hostile towards Saudi Arabia and its crown prince.
The Palestinians believe that the abusive videos posted by the Saudi man and other derogatory remarks by Saudi citizens in the past few days are part of a larger campaign by the Saudi authorities to prepare the Saudis for a peace treaty between the kingdom and Israel.
The Palestinians point to a Twitter campaign launched by Saudi citizens under the title of “Riyadh is more important than Jerusalem.” The campaign is accompanied by abusive remarks against the Palestinians, who are blamed for the “loss of Jerusalem and Palestine.” The campaign also repeats the charge made by many Arab countries, namely that the Palestinian “dogs” have always been ungrateful in the face of massive financial aid from their Arab brothers.
The Palestinians have been firing back with full force to this unprecedented online onslaught by the Saudis.
“This is a media campaign spearheaded by the boys of the [Saudi] monarch to pave the way for Saudi normalization with Israel,” commented Khalid Omar. He and many Palestinians claimed that Mohammed bin Salman was behind the online campaign “that smears and discredits the Palestinian cause.”
Yusef Jadallah wrote in response:
“We’re not surprised to hear some Saudis say that Riyadh is more important than Jerusalem. The Saudis are returning to their Zionist origin, which is hostile to Arabs and Muslims. We used to say that the Saudis support us. Unfortunately, the Saudis support Israel publicly.”
Another comment from Radwan Al-Akhras, of the Gaza Strip: “This online campaign is aimed at fomenting strife among the Arabs and Muslims. The only ones who benefit from it are the Zionists and those who are trying to be Zionists.”
The Palestinians also point to more troubling voices emerging from Saudi Arabia in recent days.
Here, for instance, is what Saudi academic Sa’ad Al-Hussein tweeted on November 25, in reference to the 2007 Fatah-Hamas “reconciliation” agreement:
“History relates that it’s the Palestinians who sold out their cause. History is also witness that the Palestinians fought amongst each other and betrayed and violated the Mecca accord.”
Again, many Palestinians took to social media to attack the Saudi academic and the royal family in Saudi Arabia. They accused the academic of being “ignorant” and “illiterate” and claimed that his charges were also designed at paving the way for normalization between Saudi Arabia and Israel.
Mustapha Anan, a Palestinian, retorted: “You are a trivial and despicable person; shame on you and your king!”
Another Palestinian, Yusri Yusef, responded:
“What’s the secret behind this Saudi smear campaign against the Palestinians? If you [the Saudis] want to make peace and form an alliance with the Zionists, that’s your business. But why these unjustified attacks on the Palestinians?”
Echoing the Palestinian public’s sentiment, Palestinian political analyst Majed Abu Diak also voiced concern over the apparent rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Israel. He accused the Saudis of bowing to pressure from the Trump administration.
“Saudi Arabia and Israel appear to be in a hurry to normalize their relations,” Abu Diak claimed.
“The Saudi regime is preparing for Mohammed bin Salman to succeed his father. That’s why the regime is prepared to pay the price [to the Americans], which includes normalizing relations with Israel as a way to improve Saudi relations with the US. For Israel, this is an old-new dream of ridding itself of the status of an alien body in the Middle East.”
Most Arabs, in fact, do not seem to care about the Palestinian “cause” any more, as pointed out in a previous article, which showed how the Arab League ministers were focusing on Iran and Hezbollah while ignoring the Palestinians.
Many people in the West are not aware that the Palestinians are trying to torpedo any peace initiative in order to blame others.
The Palestinians are crying Wolf, Wolf! — but only a few in the Arab world are listening to them. This, in a way, is encouraging and offers hope for them finally to be released from decades of repressive and corrupt governance.
These are just some of the challenges Saudi Crown Prince is facing. It is important to support him in the face of attacks by some Palestinians and other spoilers.
The question now is whether the Saudis and the rest of the Arabs have had enough of the great Palestinian shakedown.