May 23, 2017 Special Dispatch No. 6941

Saudi Journalist To Palestinian Leaders: You Have Missed Too Many Opportunities To Resolve The Conflict With Israel; It Is Time For Palestinian Unity, Peace With Israel

May 23, 2017
Saudi Arabia, Palestinians | Special Dispatch No. 6941

In his May 21, 2017 column in the London-based Al-Sharq Al-Awsat daily, Saudi journalist Mish'al Al-Sudairy criticized the Palestinian leaders and stated that for many years they had missed numerous diplomatic opportunities to resolve the conflict with Israel, and that they had at the same time lost Palestinian lands on the West Bank and wreaked destruction on Gaza.

Appealing to newly appointed Hamas political bureau head Isma'il Haniya, Al-Sudairy wrote that Hamas's agreement to a Palestinian state in the June 4, 1967 boundaries implied recognition of Israel. Therefore, he said, Hamas should cease its violence against Israel, drop the slogan "Palestine from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea," and launch an initiative for achieving Palestinian unity. He added that a country's size was not necessarily an indication of its capacity for economic prosperity and success, and that it was high time for young Palestinians to live normal lives like other young people worldwide. The entire Palestinian people, he added, deserved to "enjoy life under peaceful conditions."

Mish'al Al-Sudairy (Source: Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, London, May 21, 2017)

Below are translated excerpts from the article:[1]

"Some Palestinian leaders, while in power, excelled in two things: rhetoric and missing opportunities. They have done this from the 1940s to the early 21st century. In 1947, they opposed the [UN] partition decision, although it awarded them 49% of the lands of Palestine; they accused [Egyptian president] Gamal 'Abd Al-Nasser of treason because he agreed to the Rogers Plan,[2] and later they also accused [Egyptian president] Anwar Al-Sadat of treason because he signed the peace agreement with Israel at Camp David. These two [presidents] at least recognized reality, and the Sinai [peninsula] was returned in its entirety to Egypt.

"One of the unforgivable opportunities missed by the Palestinian leaders was their refusal to sit in the seat earmarked for them by Sadat at the negotiating table, behind their own flag, at the Cairo Mena House hotel.[3] Let it be noted that at that time not a single settlement existed in the West Bank, and not a single destroyed house [existed] in Gaza.

"After a few decades, after half the area of the West Bank was filled with settlements, they [the Palestinians] signed the Oslo Accords, which later proved worthless to them. Was [arriving at the current situation] the reason for Black September?[4] And was it the reason that the civil war in Lebanon erupted and the reason that Gaza was thrice destroyed?

"With all the respect that I have for the leader [Isma'il] Haniya, I say to him: 'When you determined [in the new Hamas policy document that the borders of Palestine are the borders] that existed prior to June 5, 1967, you implicitly and indirectly recognized Israel.[5] Therefore, from now on you cannot throw a single stone at it, not to mention fire a single rocket against it.

"I therefore wonder about the value of the flowery and futile expression 'Palestine from the river to the sea,' as long as Gaza is detached from the West Bank. Will valor and sacrifice bring the leader Haniya to launch a historic initiative and consolidate unity in the Palestinian state that will be supported by the Arab brothers and the entire world?

"Young Palestinians deserve to live, aspire, and act like the young people of other nations. We have had our fill of sorrow, oppression, idiocy, and the spouting of extremist slogans, that have eliminated wisdom and at the same time [forfeited] much land. If the Palestinian people were to enjoy life under conditions of peace, you would discover that they are a creative people, as demonstrated by the fact that the recipient of the award for the world's best teacher is the Palestinian teacher Hanan Al-Hroub.[6]

"And, if we are talking about the [Palestinian state's] territorial aspect, [it should be remembered that] Singapore occupies an area of only 710 km² – that is, one-ninth of the [combined] area of the West Bank and Gaza. Additionally, the population of the two [i.e. Singapore and the Palestinian territories] is similar – yet this Singapore's annual income exceeds $400 billion – more than the income of every petro state... even though it has no natural resources [of its own]."


[1] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), May 21. 2017.

[2] The Rogers Plan comprised the three Israel-Egypt and Israel-Jordan peace plans presented by U.S. Secretary of State William P. Rogers between 1969 and 1971.

[3] Following Sadat's visit to Israel, a peace conference at the Mena House hotel, Cairo, opened, on December 14, 1977; conferees included representatives of Israel, Egypt, the U.S., and a UN observer.

[4] The September 1970 struggle between the Jordanian army and the PLO-affiliated armed Palestinian organizations that were at that time situated in Jordan.

[5] It should be noted that the new Hamas policy document's passage concerning a Palestinian state in the 1967 boundaries, which ostensibly attests to the organization's pragmatic evolution, is written in such a way that it is not possible to understand clearly whether Hamas accepts the establishment of a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders; it notes only that Hamas "regards [this]... as a national, agreed-upon, and joint formula" by Hamas, Fatah and the PLO. It states: "There is no compromise on any part of Palestine under any conditions, any circumstances, or any pressure, no matter how long the occupation continues. Hamas rejects any alternative to the complete liberation of Palestine from the river to the sea." It continues: "At the same time – and this does not mean recognition of the Zionist entity or compromise on any of the Palestinians' rights – Hamas regards the establishment of a fully sovereign independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital in the June 4, 1967 lines, and the return of the refugees and the uprooted individuals to the homes from which they were expelled, as a national, agreed-upon, and joint formula."See:, May 1, 2017 and MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 1313, Hamas Policy Document: Palestinian State In 1967 Borders Is 'National, Agreed-upon and Joint Formula' By Hamas, PLO – Yet Armed Struggle Will Continue, And Palestine Extends From River To Sea, May 5, 2017. Additionally, it should be noted that the position on the establishment of a state in the 1967 borders as an "agreed-upon joint formula" is not a new Hamas position. Mash'al had declared it several times in the past, and the late Hamas leader Ahmad Yassin spoke about it as well. This position has also appeared in the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation agreements. The only thing that is new about it is that this time it is in an official document expressing the position of the entire Hamas leadership that was approved by the movement's highest body, the Shura Council.

[6] A teacher from the Dheheishe refugee camp near Bethlehem, who developed a method to reduce violence amongst her students. In March 2016, she took first place in an international competition for outstanding teachers.

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