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June 15, 2023 Special Dispatch No. 10667

Saudi Daily: Israel Will Remain A Foreign Element In The Region, Despite The Peace Agreements It Has Signed, Until It Changes Its Conduct And Agrees To Pay The Price Of Peace With The Palestinians

June 15, 2023
Saudi Arabia, Palestinians | Special Dispatch No. 10667

On June 7, 2023, the Saudi daily Al-Riyadh published a harshly-worded editorial titled "The Price of Peace" condemning Israel's policy towards the Palestinians. Authored by Jamal Al-Qahtani, the director of the daily's editorial board, the editorial states that the attempts of Israel, which it calls "the usurping Israeli occupation state," to become part of the region have failed due to its ongoing refusal to pay the price of peace with the Palestinians. Despite the peace and normalization agreements it has signed with the countries of the region, writes Al-Qahtani, Israel will not enjoy peace and quiet and will remain a foreign element in the region as long as it continues to deny the Palestinians' rights and refuses to make the necessary concessions in order to achieve peace.

This editorial exemplifies the harsher tone taken by Saudi Arabia towards Israel lately, which places emphasis on the kingdom's unwavering commitment to the Palestinian position. It was published against the backdrop of Saudi Arabia's recent rapprochement with Iran, on the one hand, and the reported efforts by the U.S. to promote normalization between Saudi Arabia and Israel, on the other hand. Israeli-Saudi normalization was reportedly one of the issues discussed in meetings between U.S. State Secretary Antony Blinken and Saudi officials during the former's recent visit to the kingdom. However, despite these American efforts, Saudi Arabia adheres in its position that normalization with Israel depends on progress in the negotiations with the Palestinians.  In a June 8, 2023 joint press conference with Blinken, Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan said that normalization with Israel "We believe that normalization is in the interest of the region to bring significant benefits, but without finding a pathway to peace for the Palestinian people and addressing that challenge any normalization will have limited benefits.”[1]

The following are translated excerpts from the Al-Riyadh editorial:[2]

"The usurping Israeli occupation state is experiencing an existential crisis in occupied Palestine, that has repercussions on both the external and the internal levels. Security warnings have become daily fare in 'Israel,' and they stick in the throats of the Israelis every morning. The latest of these warning was voiced by Israel's Defense Minister, Yoav Gallant, who said that, if war breaks out, the Israeli rear will face dangers that Israel has never experience before, and called to prepare for the worst-case scenario, in which Israel will have to deal with many challenges.   

"Those who have followed [the events] from within Israel may be puzzled by this situation, [because they probably] thought – in light of the developments in the region in the recent years – that [Israel's] dream of becoming part of the region and living in it as a normal country was about [to come true]. But what actually happened was the complete opposite, for Israel has never acted like a normal state. It has always behaved like a state of tyrannical occupation that keeps evading [both] the obligations of peace and the price of denying the Palestinians an independent state, even the most minimal one. On top of this, there is the policy of arrests, punishment and aggression towards the Palestinians, and the cancerous growth of the settlements, which eliminates any remaining chance of establishing a Palestinian state…  

"Israel cannot live in peace when there is a people [living] in its shadow that is denied its legitimate rights, whose land has been stolen and which is paying for its resistance and steadfastness with killing, expulsion and arrests. The Israelis must discard this delusion, and understand that they will never enjoy peace as long as the Palestinians do not enjoy it.

"The [Saudi] kingdom advanced a courageous [peace] initiative on behalf of all the Arabs… but Israel's extremist policy rejected this good opportunity and dissolved it.[3] So now Israel is experiencing a reality of growing fear, and has fully realized that even the diplomatic agreements, old and new, cannot prevent it from being a foreign element in the region rejected by all the Arab and Islamic peoples. In this situation, its only remaining option is to reexamine its policy and its Zionist plans, and accept the demands and the price of peace, if it wants to end the chronic state of fear [in which it lives]." 

 

[1] Twitter.com/KSAmofaEN, June 8, 2023.

[2] Al-Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), June 7, 2023.

[3] The reference is to the Saudi peace initiative, first presented in February 2002 by then Saudi crown prince 'Abdullah bin 'Aziz in an interview with New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. In March 2002 this initiative was adopted by the Arab League, and thus became known as the Arab Peace Initiative. However, it was only adopted after the Arab League, under pressure from Syria and Lebanon, introduced the issue of the Palestinians' right of return into the initiative by referring to UN Security Council Resolution 194. See MEMRI TV Clip No. 6031, Former Lebanese President Émile Lahoud Reveals How The Right Of Return Was Forced Into The Saudi Peace Plan In The 2002 Arab Summit (Archival), December 11, 2014; see also an analysis published by Prof. Itamar Rabinovich, "The Warped Saudi Initiative," Haaretz.com, April 7, 2002.   

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