September 22, 2020 Special Dispatch No. 8942

Editor Of Saudi Daily: Normalization With Israel Is The Arabs' Only Option

September 22, 2020
Saudi Arabia | Special Dispatch No. 8942

In an article published September 13, 2020, two days before the signing of the Israel-UAE-Bahrain peace agreements in Washington, Khalid bin Hamad Al-Malik, editor of the Saudi daily Al-Jazirah, wrote that the Arabs, having failed to defeat Israel militarily and having realized its strength, have no option but to normalize relations with Israel. After 70 years of bitter experience, he wrote, some Arab countries now understand that they must adopt different strategies and reach understandings with Israel in order to achieve what cannot be achieved without establishing peace. Castigating the Palestinian leadership and Turkey, who had condemned these agreements even though they themselves had been among the first to recognize Israel, Al-Malik also stressed that any country's decision to do this is sovereign and independent, and that neither the Palestinians nor others who exploit their cause have any right to interfere in it.

The signing of the Israel-UAE-Bahrain peace agreements (Source: Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, London, September 16, 2020)

The following are translated excerpts from Al-Malik's article:

"The Arabs have no option but to normalize [relations] and establish full diplomatic ties with Israel. They tried war and were defeated; they tried hostility towards Israel and gained nothing; they tried to reconcile [with Israel] on their own terms and failed. Finally they tried peace as a way to achieve what they have failed to achieve through war... I agree with certain Palestinian leaders who said that the Palestinian cause is their affair and not the affair of the Arabs, and that they, the Palestinians, are responsible for establishing their state in all the Palestinian territories through armed struggle. This is [precisely] why the Arabs are entitled to normalize relations with Israel and establish full ties with it, for the Palestinians have already shouldered the responsibility of regaining their legitimate rights and establishing a state with Jerusalem as its capital, and have no need of the Arabs who have normalized their relations with Israel. However, I do not support their objection to any Arab country agreeing to recognize Israel, since such recognition does not negate the demand to attain the [Palestinian] rights, and does not hinder their ability to compel Israel to surrender land that belongs to them according to international resolutions.

"In fact, this [Arab] recognition of Israel may have helped persuade it to meet some of the Palestinians' demands. In addition, the experience of 70 years of hostility towards Israel does not suggest that the future would have been any better. The internal disputes among the Palestinians and among the Arabs, coupled with Israel's growing offensive military capabilities and the growing support of the superpowers for Israel, are factors that must be taken into account in any intelligent Arab and Palestinian decision. There is also a need to formulate new strategies, methods of operation, and understandings with Israel that are different from those of the past, in order to attain achievements that the Palestinians cannot attain unless the Arabs make peace with Israel.   

"The Kingdom of Bahrain, and before it the UAE, Egypt, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority itself, have already recognized Israel. [Doing so] is a step that falls within the individual sovereignty of each country, and the Palestinians have no right to oppose it – nor do any among them and their peers who trade in the Palestinian cause. This is particularly true given that [such a move] did not appear out of thin air, or without consideration of its consequences, [but rather] was taken after careful examination, evaluation, and reading [of the situation] over the course of 70 years of bitter attempts – which led only to the loss of Egyptian and Jordanian lands that were subsequently regained via reconciliation with Israel. The annexed Syrian lands remain in Israel's hands because Syria was never bold enough to act similarly.

"I am surprised that the Palestinians oppose any Arab recognition of the State of Israel when they themselves were the first to recognize it. I am amazed that Turkish President Erdogan is poking his nose into the matter of the UAE's and Bahrain's reconciliation with Israel, and opposes it, while his country has recognized Israel for decades, maintains a diplomatic presence there, and has openly cooperated with it in all areas. I am even more amazed by the invective and ingratitude that dominate the statements and reactions by some Palestinian leaders and organizations following the UAE's and Bahrain's recognition of Israel. 

"The storm will soon die down, and the Palestinians will accept the Arab countries' recognition of Israel, even if some Palestinians and Arabs continue to trade in the Palestinian cause. However, [this will only come] after the Palestinians have ruined the Arabs', and particularly the Gulf [states'], attitude toward their cause – and the latter are their greatest supporters, economically and politically...

"Other Arab countries can be expected to follow in the UAE's and Bahrain's footsteps and recognize Israel. Such recognition does not nullify the Palestinians' right to establish a state with Jerusalem as its capital, and nothing in the UAE's or Bahrain's statements even remotely invalidates the Palestinians' unshakable right to establish their state. These two countries' statements are a call for peace, and this does not disregard the Palestinians' right in any future equation that might resolve their situation. Indeed, these statements are paving the way toward such a resolution.

"In conclusion, any intelligent person can see that Manama's and Abu Dhabi's recognition of Israel is a pioneering and appropriate step toward correcting the course of relations with the Hebrew state, and toward arriving at something that might address some of the rights of the Palestinians..."[1]


[1] Al-Jazirah (Saudi Arabia), September 13, 2020.

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