November 7, 2018 Special Dispatch No. 7753

Contrasting Reactions In Arab World To Gulf States' Harbingers Of Normalization With Israel

November 7, 2018
The Gulf | Special Dispatch No. 7753

Three events in three Arab Gulf states in the past week have reflected these countries' process of normalization with Israel. On October 26, 2018, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Oman, accompanied by the head of the Mossad; the visit was extensively covered by Omani media. Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi declared on several occasions that Israel is a Middle Eastern country that must be accepted as such.

On October 25, Israeli Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev arrived in Abu Dhabi to join the Israeli judo team participating in the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam; while Israelis had previously participated in this competition, it was the first time their national symbols were allowed to be displayed. The Israeli anthem was even played twice when Israeli judokas won two gold medals. During Minister Regev's stay in the country, she visited the Sheikh Zayed mosque, named for the founder of the UAE.

The previous week, an Israeli gymnastics team had competed in the 48th Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Doha, Qatar, under the Israeli national flag.  

Prime Minister Netanyahu's visit to Oman took place a few days after a similar visit by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud 'Abbas. Omani Foreign Minister bin Alawi stated that 'Netanyahu's visit was aimed at presenting the Israelis with ideas to help renew the political process with the Palestinians, but stressed that his country had no intention of serving as a mediator, since that role was reserved for the U.S. Following Netanyahu's Oman visit, the Omanis sent several messages to 'Abbas about it. On October 28, Omani Sultan Qaboos' envoy Salim bin Habib Al-'Omeiri arrived in Ramallah with a letter for 'Abbas, and three days later, on October 31, 'Abbas met with the Omani foreign minister, who conveyed to him a "direct message" from the sultan. The London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat reported that Oman wanted to play an important role in settling both the Palestinian-U.S. and the Palestinian-Israeli disputes.[1]

Additionally, it has been assessed that Netanyahu's visit also concerned the issue of Iran. The Omani daily Oman reported that Netanyahu and Sultan Qaboos discussed kickstarting the peace process and also "several issues of shared interest that serve security and stability in the region,"[2] perhaps hinting at discussions on that subject.

Netanyahu's visit took place at the same time as the 14th Manama Dialogue regional security summit was held in the Bahraini capital, focusing on the fight against terrorism and the Iranian threat.[3] Iranian MP Javad Karimi Qadosi stated that he had in his possession information on secret negotiations between experts in the Iranian Foreign Ministry and their American counterparts in Oman; however, the Iranian Foreign Ministry denied this.[4]

These events, and particularly the Israeli prime minister's Oman visit, aroused many reactions in the Arab world. Most of them appeared in articles and cartoons in the Arab press. There were few statements by Arab leaders; so far, the only officials to make them were Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir and Bahraini Foreign Minister Khaled bin Ahmad Aal Khalifa. At a joint press conference on the margins of the Manama summit, Al-Jubeir expressed cautious criticism of Oman's hosting of Netanyahu, saying that his country had no relations with Israel and that "we maintain that there is no normalization without a peace process and the restoration of the Palestinian rights." He stressed that the key to normalization with Israel is progress in the peace process based on the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative.[5] In contrast, his Bahraini counterpart expressed a positive view about Oman's move, saying: "We do not doubt Sultan Qaboos' wisdom; he is trying to act for peace and to help resolve the Israel-Palestinian dispute..."[6] Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said that the Islamic countries need not allow the Zionist entity to provoke new problems in the region, despite American pressure.[7] Hamas political bureau head Isma'il Haniya stressed that Hamas would continue its armed resistance in order to wipe Israel off the map.

However, despite several articles praising Oman's position, most columnists in the press– even those reportedly maintaining contacts with Israel – aggressively condemned all recent signs of normalization with it. This may show that normalization is not easily accepted and is seen as a red line.

Those who supported Oman's hosting of Netanyahu accepted the Omani version of events, according to which the move was aimed at serving Palestinian interests, to advance the peace process with Israel, and to lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state. It was also argued that Israel had proven itself to be an effective factor against Iran's expansion in the region.

Those who opposed Oman's move maintained that it was against the Arab Peace Initiative, which stipulates that normalization is contingent upon the end of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. They added that the move had harmed Palestinian interests and constituted surrender to the U.S. desire to impose President Trump's Deal of the Century on the region – in complete contrast to what the Arab peoples want. They also questioned Oman's ability to help resolve the Palestinian issue where greater powers had failed to do so. 

This paper will review the reactions in the Arab media to visits by Netanyahu and other Israeli delegations to the Gulf countries.

Reactions In Oman

Extensive Sympathetic Coverage Of Netanyahu Visit

In contrast with the other Arab countries that have contacts with Israel but choose to keep them secret, Oman is open about them. In 1994, after years of unofficial contacts and after the signing of the Oslo Accords, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin visited the country; in 1995, the Omani foreign minister visited Israel. In 1996, the two signed an agreement allowing the opening of reciprocal commercial legations. Relations soured in the wake of the outbreak of the Second Intifada in 2000, but improved over the years; in 2016, Oman sent an official representative to the funeral of Israeli president Shimon Peres.

Oman also did not downplay Netanyahu's October 26 visit. Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi said on several occasions that Israel is a Middle Eastern country and must be recognized as such, and that there was no ban on meeting with its prime minister. Oman, he said, was discussing ideas for Israeli-Palestinian rapprochement, but was not mediating between the two.[8]

The visit was widely and sympathetically covered by the Omani newspapers, as 'Abbas's visit a few days previously had been. The government press devoted its front pages to the visit, and many articles were written about it.

The Oman daily devoted the first two pages of its October 27, 2018 issue to Netanyahu's visit

Omani Dailies: Peace Between Israel And Palestinians Is A Strategic Necessity; U.S. Mediation Is Vital

Articles in Omani dailies stressed that, due to its neutral role, Oman has been able to successfully mediate between rival parties over the years. An October 26, 2018 editorial in Oman daily stated:  "The two visits, of [PA President Mahmoud] 'Abbas and [Israel PM Binyamin] Netanyahu, in Muscat will surely have ramifications in the coming period, at least in terms of creating [favorable conditions] for the renewal of Palestinian-Israeli negotiations towards attaining a just, viable and comprehensive peace that will enable establishing a Palestinian state in accordance with the two-state solution and the UN resolutions. A just and comprehensive peace and security for both the Palestinians and Israel have become a strategic necessity for the peace and security of this vital region and in order to spare the peoples and the future generations [in this region] additional suffering. Muscat has always been a gate to peace and rapprochement between brothers and among brothers and friends. The Sultanate does not pursue its own interests but responds to the needs of the relevant parties. It wants only to give the peoples of the region a real opportunity to end the wars and conflicts between them..."[9]

The editor of the Omani daily Al-Raya, Khatem Al-Taee, wrote that his country's policy is based on stable and balanced national positions, is characterized by absolute transparency and non-intervention in others' domestic affairs, and does not force Oman's positions on them: "Oman's raising of ideas regarding the peace process in the region stems from its balanced policy vis-à-vis the entire world. [Oman is not interested] in acting as mediator in various agreements, or as part of the so-called Deal of the Century. [It is only] raising ideas for the sake of peace and for the sake of our brothers, the Palestinian people... ideas that complement the American role, which [America] must forcefully reassume and fulfill. There is no substitute for the U.S. in fulfilling... this role, just as there is no substitute for a just and comprehensive peace..."[10]

Cartoon in Omani daily: Everyone is thronging to Oman to make peace (Al-Watan, Oman, October 27, 2018)

Palestinian Reactions: No To Normalization; Divided Opinions On An Omani Role

As stated, Netanyahu's visit in Muscat took place several days after 'Abbas's visit there, and according to the Omani foreign minister was aimed at helping to restart the peace process. In the days following Netanyahu's visit, two Omani officials visited Ramallah in succession: an envoy of the Omani sultan, Salem bin Habib Al-'Omeiri, and the Omani foreign minister – presumably in order to inform 'Abbas about the outcomes of Netanyahu's visit and receive his support for Oman's mediation efforts.

Statements by Palestinian officials and articles in the Palestinian press indicate that the Palestinians  oppose manifestation of normalization between Israel and the Arab states, out of fear that this will hurt their position in negotiations with Israel. As for the Omani mediation itself, opinions seem to be divided, for, although most reactions were negative, there were also expressions of support for the Omani initiative.

The visits of the Omani officials in Ramallah were reported only briefly in the Palestinian press. Regarding Al-'Omeiri's visit, it was reported that 'Abbas had thanked him for visiting "his second homeland, Palestine," and had praised "Oman's extensive support for the Palestinian people and their just cause."[11] As for the foreign minister's visit, it was reported only that he met with 'Abbas and conveyed a letter "from ['Abbas's] brother [Sultan Qaboos] regarding the Israeli prime minister's visit to Oman."[12]

PLO: All Arab Countries Must Stop Normalization With Israel         

PLO and Fatah officials condemned all manifestations of normalization with Israel, and some also criticized Oman for undertaking to mediate between Israel and the Palestinians. The closing statement of the PLO Central Council's meeting, held on October 28-29 and chaired by 'Abbas, said that the council "upholds the Arab peace initiative as approved at the 2002 Arab Summit and opposes changing it in any way, [and] demands that all Arab countries cease all forms of normalization with the occupation regime (Israel) until the Arab peace initiative is implemented in full."[13]  

Fatah Central Committee member Muhammad Ashtiya warned that normalization would in effect invalidate the Arab peace initiative: "The period of open normalization has begun, and the Arab initiative is over. The fabric of the Arabs' values and political and social positions has disintegrated."[14]

Hassan Khreisha, second deputy to the Palestinian Legislative Council chairman and PLO Central Committee member, spoke out against Oman's attempts to push the PA into negotiating with Israel. He said, "The Arabs are marching with unprecedented speed towards normalization with Israel, because the Arab leaders fear [losing] their seats and know that relations with the occupation are the gate to gaining the Americans' love... Oman wants to burnish the image of the U.S. [in the Palestinians' eyes] so as to push President Mahmoud 'Abbas to go back to negotiating with Israel."[15]

Palestinian Journalist: How Can Oman Help End The Arab-Israeli Conflict When Larger Countries Have Failed?

Opposition to normalization was also expressed in the Palestinian press. Muwaffaq Matar, a Fatah Revolutionary Council member and columnist for the PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, published an article slamming the Arab countries for normalizing relations with Israel and called this a violation of the Arab peace initiative.[16]

Talal 'Awkal, a columnist for the Al-Ayyam daily, likewise criticized the Omani initiative, writing: "Netanyahu has a right to celebrate this achievement [of his visit to Oman]... He has repeatedly spoken with satisfaction of breakthroughs achieved and of relations established with [Arab] countries and with many Arab officials. Some believed that these claims were lies, for the head of the occupation state excels at [lying]. But now he has proven otherwise... Netanyahu has consistently held that [the implementation of] the [Arab peace] initiative should start with its last clause, namely with normalization [between Israel] and the Arab and Muslim [countries], before the completion of the peace process [with the Palestinians]. The Arabs opposed this, but the events... show that Netanyahu's vision has become the crux of America's 'Deal of the Century,' and that many Arab states have begun accepting this formula... Netanyahu's visit to Muscat at this time is very significant, for it breaks the glass [barrier] and paves the way to similar victories [in other Arab countries]... The first country to follow Oman will be Bahrain, whose foreign minister welcomed and praised the initiative of Sultan Qaboos in meeting with Netanyahu...

"[Attempting] to explain the visits of [PA] President Mahmoud 'Abbas and of the head of the occupation state [in Oman], some claim that Oman is trying to mediate, to join the path of the peace process and remove some of the obstacles from this path... But, without detracting from the importance of Oman and its role, I wonder how it can help remove obstacles [from the path of] the complicated affair called the peace process and the 'Deal of the Century.' If superpowers and international blocs have failed, and have stood helpless before the American-Israeli alliance and the 'Deal of the Century'... what can Oman do[?] Moreover, welcoming Netanyahu conveys a message [intended to] pressure and warn the Palestinians – namely, that even if the Palestinians refuse to join the caravan of the 'Deal of the Century,' the Arabs will not hesitate to join it, and that the Palestinians must facilitate the Arabs' confrontation with Iran, which takes priority [over their own cause] – otherwise they will have to bear the consequences and will have nobody to blame but themselves."[17]

Article In PA Daily: The Palestinians Welcome The Omani Role

Conversely, following the visit of the Omani foreign minister in Ramallah, the PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida published an article by Jordanian journalist Sultan Al-Khattab in praise of an Omani role: "Oman does not have to justify its positions, initiatives and efforts. It believes in its message, which is welcomed by the Palestinians. The legitimate Palestinian leadership received the Sultan's envoy and the Omani diplomat, whereas [other] Palestinian and Arab elements malign [Oman]. These elements wish to evade their responsibility regarding the Palestinian cause, and were very wrong to suggest an alternative to the Palestinian leadership...[18]

"The Palestinians consciously welcome the Omani role, since it stems from genuine goodwill, brotherhood and a desire for peace for this region and all [its] peoples."[19] 

Hamas: Continue The Armed Resistance; Normalization Encourages Israel To Continue To Harm Us

As expected, Hamas criticized the harbingers of normlaization in the Gulf countrties. Hamas political bureau head Isma'il Haniya said at the funeral of three Palestinians killed at the Gaza border fence: "I am sending an enraged message to all those who are normalizing [relations with Israel], who are receiving [representatives of] the occupation – the ministers of the occupation and the Israeli sports teams. Our history will be written with blood and martyrs' deaths. This enemy will have no place on the map and all attempts at normalization will not change the truth."[20]

In an October 27 announcement, Hamas stated that it "rejects all forms of normalization with the Israeli occupation on all levels, since it has grave ramifications for the Palestinian people, its rights, and its history in our land and our homeland, and for the national Arab and Islamic unity and cohesion and for the peoples who oppose this policy... Likewise,  Hamas sees normalization as providing cover and backing for the Zionist enemy to carry out additional crimes and violations against the Palestinian people, and as a dagger in its back and in its just [national] cause.

"Hamas condemns Israeli politicians' or athletes' visits and meetings in some Arab countries – Qatar and the UAE – and also firmly condemns the meeting [with] the head of the Zionist criminals, Netanyahu, in Oman, because this has grave ramifications for our Palestinian people and for our just [national] cause. It emphasizes to our brothers in these countries the necessity of supporting the Palestian people, of backing and strengthening its steadfastness, and of continuing the boycott and isolation policy against the Zionist entity that constitutes a threat to Palestine and to the entire region."[21]

Articles And Statements In Favor Of Oman's Hosting Of Netanyahu

Saudi Journalists: The Omani Position Is Bold, Even If It Contradicts The Arab Peace Initiative

The Arab press published a number of articles praising Oman's hosting of Netanyahu. The Saudi government press published two articles praising Oman and its open behavior.

'Akal Al-'Akal, columnist for the Dubai-based Saudi Al-Hayat daily, wrote that over the years Oman had taken bold stands even if they were not always compatible with those of the rest of the Arab countries, and that ultimately they were proven correct – such as the 1979 Camp David Egyptian-Israeli peace agreement, and the current Syrian crisis. He wrote: "We must recognize that the Omani position is bold, since [Oman] announced the visit and is acting in its national interests. Perhaps ultimately this visit will serve the Arab interests, and particularly the Palestinian interests. It is true that the Arab Peace Initiative includes conditions approved by the Arab countries, and perhaps this visit will jumpstart it. With regard to those who argue that the Gulf states are the gateway to normalization, the Gulf states are the ones that least need normalization with Israel. But the circumstances in the region and internationally are changing, and there is a need for a realistic policy that will lead to finding a political solution. I am convinced that the Gulf states will neither agree to nor accept a solution for the Palestinian issue that is not accepted by the interested parties themselves [i.e. the Palestinians]..."[22]

Salman Al-Dosari, former editor of the Al-Sharq Al-Awsat daily, wrote: "Some believe that there is a need for measures to end the stagnation [in the peace process], as the sultanate of Oman did, even if it means jumping [straight] into direct contacts with the Israeli side – in contrast to what was decided in the Arab [Peace] Initiative. That is [one] opinion, and even if we disagree with it, it is not the first time an Arab country has taken steps counter to what was decided in the corridors of the Arab League. As for Oman receiving the Israeli prime minister – even if many have reservations about this, Oman's actions were, according to leaks, coordinated with the PA. Moreover, Muscat sannounced [the visit], and its ultimate goal is to promote the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. Oman believes that this goal is worth the risk and worth maintaining separate contacts with Israeli officials at the highest level."

Criticizing Qatar, which he said is unlike Oman in that it is hypocritical and maintains ties with Israel in secret, he added: "I believe these efforts [to make peace with Israel] should be made as part of the Arab peace initiative and not separately. But the Omanis, [unlike the Qataris, at least] take [responsibility] for the results of their actions and declare them openly. They are not hypocrites, sycophants or traitors. And most importantly, they have the courage to declare what they think is the right [thing to do]..."[23]

Saudi Intellectual: Netanyahu's Visit Is A Message That Peace Is On The Way

'Abd Al-Hamid Al-Hakim, a Saudi intellectual who until recently headed the Middle East Center for Strategic and Legal Studies in Jeddah, and who is known for his support of Israel and even visited the country in 2016, tweeted about Netanyahu's visit in Oman: "[This is] a real beginning towards attaining peace between Israel and the moderate [Arab] countries. [It is] a declaration of the formation of a peace camp as a force that will direct the region's affairs and create a new Middle East, and [a step towards] confronting the danger of the Iranian and Turkish plan... This visit is a message [that] 'the peace process is coming, and the enemies of peace will find no consolation.'"[24]      

'Abd Al-Halim Hakim's tweet

Editor Of Kuwaiti Daily: Omani Sultan "Is Paving The Way To A Solution" For The Palestinian Issue 

Ahmad Al-Jarallah, editor of the Kuwaiti Al-Siyassa daily, welcomed the Omani ruler's efforts to promote a solution for the Palestinian issue at a time when other Arab leaders were exploiting the issue for their own personal ends:  "Over [the past] 70 years, the Arabs have not listened to the voice of reason. They have not realized that they will never liberate the land and throw the Jews into the sea or send them back whence they came – not  by means of their enthusiasm, songs, and slogans, and not even by means of terrorism and hostility to the world, which understands the language of interests better than the language of emotion.

"Thus, all attempts [at resolving the Palestinian issue] have failed, because the sword of accusations of treason was brandished above the neck of the wise ones of this ummah [who sought a solution].

"Today, when Omani sultan Qaboos bin Said receives Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu after meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud 'Abbas, he is paving the way to a solution that has already been spoken about a great deal but has seen no actual steps taken. On the contrary – there have only been repulsive attempts to further exploit the Palestinians' blood..."[25]

Senior Saudi Journalist: Israel Has An Important Role In The Security Of The Region; It Has Repelled The Iranian Threats

Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed, former editor of the London-based Saudi Al-Sharq Al-Awsat daily, speculated in his column that this marked the end of the era in which contact with Israel was forbidden. This, he said, was because of Israel's contribution to mitigating the Iranian danger in the region with its intervention in the war in Syria, into which Israel had been dragged as the result of Iran's involvement. He wrote:

"The Arab public's and media's nonchalance with regard to Oman's announcement that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had been hosted in Muscat illustrates how much the region has changed. Israel's activity has moved past political meetings to other areas like economics and sports, and is taking place in a number of Arab countries. So is this the end of the prohibition on relations [with Israel]? I think so...

"The Arab culture of rejecting relations and normalization with Israel is deeply rooted and still alive, but what is new is that it no longer constitutes a motive for Arab governments' policies [and that normalization is no longer something Arab governments accuse] each other of.

"The Sultanate of Oman has done well by handling things with clarity and openness, and because Oman is not part of regional conflicts, none of these governments have aimed their media artillery at them – despite the announcement that a number of [Israeli] ministers visited along with Netanyahu..."

Stressing Israel's important role in the struggle against Iran's expansion in the Middle East, Al-Rashed added: "Israel has an important role in striking at Iran’s growing influence in Syria. It [even] took on roles that the Arab countries that reject [normalization with it] could not. Thus, a military balance in the region was achieved, and Israel became integral to regional security, after it had once been considered a poisoned apple that everyone feared to touch...

"Even those who reject Israel because of the Palestinian issue found themselves compelled to welcome the intervention of the Israeli Air Force, which dramatically changed the situation in Syria and stopped Iran's threats in the region... Without [Israel's] intervention [in the Syria crisis], it would not have been possible to prevent the expansion of [Iran's Islamic] Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC)... [that was taking place] on the back of the Russian military and political presence..."[26]

Articles Opposing Normalization With Israel

As noted, along with support for normalization, most of the articles in the Arab press harshly criticized Oman's displays of normalization, as well as its mediation efforts. The criticism came, as expected, from the countries opposed to relations with Israel. However, some of the articles were published also in countries such as Jordan, that has official relations with Israel, and also in Gulf states that reportedly have relations with Israel.

Kuwaiti Journalist: Israel's Goal In Normalization Is To Take Over The Arab States And Destroy Them

In an antisemitic article in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyassa, Dr. Hamoud Al-Khattab wrote that just as Jewish merchants used to impoverish Kuwaiti merchants, Israel is now seeking to normalize relations with Arab countries in order to gradually bankrupt and destroy them. He wrote: "The [Jews] today have 60,000 tricks and ruses they use to slowly take over countries that maintain relations with them, in such a way that none of them [even] notice that their blood is being sucked. That is what they have done to countries that signed agreements with them and normalized relations with them. They impoverished [those countries]... and defeated them, even though their economies were growing...

"The Zionist efforts to normalize [relations] with the Arabs... are even worse than their actions to bankrupt these countries. Space limitations do not allow [me] to expand on this, but the important point is [that the Jews aim] to eliminate these [Arab] states and entities, for the Jewish religion contends that all [other] people were created only to be slaves of the Jews... The late Kuwaiti emir Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah once said: 'Even if all the states normalize their relations with the Zionist entity, Kuwait will never do so.' Rest in peace, honorable Emir... for Kuwait is [now] stronger in its positions thanks to you.'[27]

Bahraini Columnist: Normalization With Israel Is Betrayal Of The Ummah And Of Islam

Ibrahim Al-Sheikh, columnist for the Bahraini Akhbar Al-Khaleej daily, wrote: "[Even] those who are most pessimistic about how willing our Gulf countries are to satisfy Uncle Sam's will and conduct deals with him did not expect a Gulf country to allow the Zionist criminal murderer 'Stinkyahu'[28] to defile our land, and to even take pride in the fact that senior officials in Oman are shaking his and his wife's hands – all while [Netanyahu's] rockets light up the Gaza sky and blow up the besieged citizens there ...

"Bahrain started it, with visits from trade, sports, and cultural delegations. Today, there is a gymnastics delegation in Qatar, and another for judo in the Arab UAE, and it seems that the worst is yet to come...

"Most of the Islamic and Arab peoples from the [Atlantic] Ocean to the Gulf oppose normalization. As the Bahrainis opposed it and took to the streets with the slogan 'Bahrainis Against Normalization,' as the Qataris opposed it and took to the streets with the slogan 'Qataris Against Normalization,' and as the Omanis opposed it and took to the streets with the slogan 'Omanis Against Normalization,; so did [all] the living peoples who know where their compass points and which of the invading murderers is their enemy and the enemy of their ummah...

"Normalization is a crime against the ummah... it is betrayal of this ummah and a crime against its existence and its borders. The regimes that normalize... are betraying their ummah, their peoples, and their religion – and the blood of tens of thousands of martyrs...

"Throughout history, the political and social elite, with its spectrum of opinions and ideologies, maintained an impregnable fortress on the Palestinian issue. But where is this elite today? Many have fallen along the way, one after the other; many have betrayed the [Palestinian] issue – among them, sadly, Palestinians.

"All this is insignificant. The Holy Land has men who defend it with their lives; they are not impacted by those who abandon them, and are not deterred by the mortal tyrants and the devils' Deals of the Century."[29]

Jordanian Columnist: Negotiations With Netanyahu Are Pointless; Israel Must Be Isolated, Not Welcomed

Hamada Fara'neh, a Jordanian journalist of Palestinian origin, wrote in his column in Jordan's Al-Dustour daily: "In addition to its superior might, the Israeli enemy has an extremist political and religious outlook that seeks to devour all of Palestine, except for the Gaza Strip... Relations with Netanyahu and his staff serve his interest [alone]...

"The goodwill [shown] by some Arabs to the Israeli enemy will not divert it from its arrogance and extremism nor close [Netanyahu's] crocodile jaws, which constantly demand more and more, especially in light of the American policy led by Trump and his Zionist staff, which completely supports the policy of the colonialist expansionist Israel. Our Arab brothers must place their goodwill at the service of the Palestinian position, which needs leverage in order to protect the [Arab] residents of Jerusalem and their steadfastness, and in order to remove the siege from Gaza... The Palestinian position needs [us] to besiege and isolate the Israeli enemy, not to open doors to it and welcome it so it can infiltrate and divide the Arab ranks and divide them..."[30]

Cartoon in Jordanian daily: "Normalization" – the final brick in the Israeli siege on the Palestinians (Al-Ghad, Jordan, October 31, 2018)

Qatari Daily: Oman Gave Netanyahu A Prize While The Palestinians Are Facing A Brutal Attack

Even while Qatar itself was hosting an Israeli sports delegation appearing under the Israeli flag, an editorial in the London-based Qatari daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi attacked Oman and other Gulf states headed by Saudi Arabia, with which Qatar's relations are in crisis[31]:

"Netanyahu's visit took place while the Palestinians are experiencing a great catastrophe in the form of a coordinated and unprecedented attack by the administration of U.S. President Trump and [the three branches] of the Hebrew state: its government,  its parliament, and its judiciary. This attack enjoys widespread Arab support from significant countries: Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, and Bahrain. Some of the grave consequences [of this attack] were Washington's [recognition] of Jerusalem as Israel's capital and the moving of its embassy there; the passing of [Israel's] racist Nationality Law; the tightening of the political and economic siege on the Palestinian Authority; the besieging and terrorizing of Gaza, in all ways; and the withdrawal of U.S. support from UNRWA as a first step towards eliminating it. All this has also deepened the internal Palestinian conflict.

"What political consideration prompted Oman to invite Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to visit, and what is the significance of this strange timing? It is a well-known fact that the sultanate [of Oman] tries to distance itself from the [rival] regional axes in the Middle East and the Arab world, and wants to stress that it has its own unique and unconventional path. That may explain its role as a mediator between Iran and the Arabs... However, Oman's desire to distance itself from the [regional] axes is not enough to justify [giving] this big prize to Netanyahu and his racist state..."[32]

Hizbullah Website: Arabs Who Normalize Relations Prostrate Themselves To The West In Defiance Of Their Peoples' Will

An article on the Hizbullah website stated: "Benjamin Netanyahu's public visit to an Arab country was a resounding slap in the face of the Arabs. Sadly, those who failed to feel this slap were the Arabs who are dishonorably normalizing [their relations with Israel]. [They are doing this] because they have become accustomed to their heads being under the thumb of their protectors the Zionists and Americans, and enjoy submitting to the Western master, regardless of his character and nationality. 

"The one who was shocked by this slap was the ordinary Arab citizen... who yearned for leaders who would act for the liberation of Palestine, for armies that would equip themselves to expel the usurping Zionists, and for advanced weapons that would liberate the sorrowful Al-Aqsa. [Instead,] he was amazed to discover people who purport to be leaders yet derive their greatest pride from shaking the hand of the criminal Netanyahu, [people] whose most important struggle is to open the gates of Arab countries to Zionist sports delegations, and whose greatest dream is the implementation of the 'Deal of the Century,' which will turn the Zionist entity into the master of this region, with nobody to contest its sovereignty or to fight its control… 

"But despite this dark and nauseating situation, there remains a glimmer of hope in the east, and there remain some [elements] feared by the [Israeli] enemy... These are the stubborn [elements of] the resistance, who refuse to surrender and who oppose normalization and defeat, and who will fight until they liberate all the land from the enemy and those who do his bidding..."[33]

Israel, embraced by the Arabs, continues to strike at the Palestinians (Source: Al-Arabi Al-Jadid, London, October 28, 2018)

Columnist for Syrian Daily: The Gulf Leaders' Wisdom Is Based On The Betrayal Of Palestine, Arabism, And The Supporters Of Resistance

Rif'at Al-Badawi, columnist for the Syrian Al-Watan daily, which is close to the regime, wrote that while Israel was shedding the Palestinians' blood, the Gulf states were opening their gates wide to receive Israeli delegations. He claimed that Netanyahu's visit to Oman was aimed at "establishing a secret Israeli military base... in the Dhofar region of Oman, site of the largest British military base in the Middle East, to spy on nearby Iran and to protect the Strait of Hormuz, through which 48% of the world's oil passes," adding: "The Gulf states are acting unrestrainedly to implement the Deal of the Century and to be rid of the Palestinian issue. They have exposed their nakedness... By normalizing with and aiding the Israeli enemy... and have chosen to jump from the ship of the Arab rights onto the Israeli boat of plunder, led by the U.S... Israel, which for the first time in its history is threatened, has realized that its continuation is in real danger, and that it cannot wage any war to expand its borders – particularly in light of Syria's success in thwarting the Israeli plan to harm the persistence and strength of the Arab Syrian Army and attempts to divide Syria's territory.

"It appears that in light of the upcoming declaration of Syria's victory and the reinforcement of the resistance axis by the unification of the fronts that stretch from the Golan Heights through Rosh HaNikra in Lebanon to Gaza in Palestine, with direct Syrian-Iranian support, Israel found itself facing a new and complex equation...

"In light of this situation, Israel has chosen to turn to Plan B in order to minimize its losses, to ask for help from the Gulf Arabs... and to announce relations with them. The sultans and emirs of the Gulf Arabs have opened the gates of their palaces to the Arab-hating and Palestinian-murdering Netanyahu, and have given him a reception befitting their wisdom, which is based on betrayal of Palestine and Arabism and of all those who cling to the principle of resistance to the Israeli occupier. Thus, the Zionist entity will become a natural state in the new Middle East under the protection of the Gulf regimes..."[34]

The Arabs abandon the Palestinians and scurry to embrace Israel (, October 27, 2018)

Editor Of Raialyoum Online Daily: The Arab People Will Oppose Normalization With Israel

Abd Al-Bari Atwan, editor of the daily known for its support for Iran and the Syrian regime, stated that the Gulf states' shows of normalization with Israel were the prelude to the imposition of the Deal of the Century that would bury the Palestinian cause, and particularly the Palestinian right of return. He wrote:

"This is a coordinated normalization attack, under American pressure, with no connection to Palestinian-Israeli peace but rather to the peace between Israel and the Arab governments [that is] not reciprocated [by Israel], as a preface to the imposition of the remaining sections of the Deal of the Century – which means exploiting the official Arab collapse in order to eliminate the Palestinian issue, ending the Arab-Israel conflict, and recognizing Israel as a 'sister' Middle East country.

"It may be that this is the most important chapter in the calculated plan, and that it explains the causes of the destruction of Iraq, and after that of Syria, Libya, and Yemen, and of the starvation of Egypt. This is because without the previous destruction of these countries, on many false pretexts, this program would not have gone through, and we never would have been witness to its painful ramifications [vis-à-vis] normalization...

"There is no peace initiative that these three countries – the Omani sultanate, Qatar, and the UAE – are acting to support by receiving Israeli delegations. Likewise, the principles that the governments of these states have declared they are upholding, like aiding the downtrodden [i.e. the Palestinians], defending the holy places, and restoring rights, are not being honored....

"This visit [by Netanyahu] is only the prelude to more public visits, embassy openings, exchanges of interests, and comprehensive security coordination, perhaps against the Palestinians and against all those who stand with the resistance axis and adopt its culture...

"It is sad [to see] the brothers, or some of them, particularly in the Arab Gulf region, rushing towards Netanyahu and his government, the most fascist and racist in the history of the region that is dealing also with international rejection due to its war crimes. In my view, the Arab people, [particularly] in the Gulf states, will not accept this normalization at all, and will oppose it..."[35]


[1] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), November 1, 2018.

[2] Oman (Oman), October 27, 2018.

[3], October 26, 2018.

[4], October 28, 2018.

[5] Al-Hayat (Dubai), October 28, 2018.

[6] Al-Ayyam (Bahrain), October 28, 2018.

[7], October 26, 2018.

[9] Oman (Oman), October 26, 2018.

[10] Al-Raya (Oman), October 27, 2018.

[11] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), October 29, 2018.

[12], October 31, 2018.

[13], October 29, 2018.

[14] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), October 27, 2018.

[15] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), October 27, 2018.

[17] Al-Ayyam (PA), October 29, 2018.

[19] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), November 1, 2018.

[20], October 29, 2018.

[21], October 26, 2018.

[22] Al-Hayat (Dubai), October 30, 2018.

[23] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), October 28, 2018.

[24], October 27, 2018.

[25] Al-Siyassa (Kuwait), October 27, 2018.

[26], October 28, 2018. The original English has been lightly edited for clarity.

[27] Al-Siyassa (Kuwait), October 27, 2018.

[28] A play on words on the name Netanyahu; natan in Arabic means "stinking."

[29] Akhbar Al-Khaleej (Bahrain), October 28, 2018.

[30] Al-Dustour (Jordan), October 29, 2018.

[32] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), October 27, 2018.

[33], October 27, 2018.

[34] Al-Watan (Syria), October 29, 2010.

[35], October 27, 2018.

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