On December 11, 2017, Prince Turki Al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia's former intelligence chief and former ambassador to the U.S. and the U.K., published an open letter to U.S. President Donald Trump in the Saudi daily Al-Jazirah, in which he condemned the latter's announcement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital and called upon him to retract it.
He began by stating that, just like U.S. President Harry Truman's decision to recognize the state of Israel in the first place, Trump's decision is mistaken and "opportunistic," and will lead to bloodshed. Attacking Trump for his deliberate attempt to distort the truth by ignoring that East Jerusalem is territory Israel occupied by force, he warned that this move could encourage the extremist elements in Israel and Iran, as well the terror organizations around the world. He urged Trump to rectify his "arrogant mistake" by recognizing a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
It should be noted that Trump's announcement prompted other articles in Saudi papers, some of which criticized his motivations and warned of the repercussions in the region and the world. Others directed their criticism at the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian public, saying that they do not do enough to advance their own cause and blame their troubles on others, including Saudi Arabia and Trump.
Al-Faisal's open letter in the Al-Jazirah daily
The following are excerpts from his letter:
"No. Mr. Trump, you are making the same failed assumptions and repeating the failed strategies of the past. In your action [of recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel], you are repeating the failed assumptions and the failed strategies of former [U.S. President Harry] Truman, [held office in 1945-1953]. Disregarding the advice of his experienced foreign minister Gen. George Marshal, [Truman] recognized the state of Israel, thereby precipitating a historic crime that allowed this state to oppress the Palestinian people and unjustly occupy its lands and other Arab lands. Bloodshed and riots followed Truman's opportunistic decision, which was meant to secure him an electoral victory, and similar bloodshed and riots will follow your opportunistic decision, intended to secure an electoral victory [for you].
"No, Mr. Trump, you action will not 'benefit the U.S.' It has caused you to discard the promise you made the Islamic ummah at the [May 2017] Riyadh summit, where you proposed 'partnership based on shared interests and values to pursue a better future for us all.' Where is that promised partnership when it comes to this mistaken and unilateral decision of yours?
"No, President Trump, Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel. Your country was one of those who drafted Security Council Resolution 242, which explicitly refers to 'the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war,' one of the most important principles of international law, which was reasserted in subsequent Security Council resolutions. East Jerusalem is land occupied by Israel by means of war. Your disregard of this fact is nothing but a deliberate attempt to distort [reality] and force 'fake news' to [replace] the truth that is known to the whole world except for you and the radical right in Israel, America and elsewhere.
"No. Mr. Trump, Israel is not the democracy you applaud. Just ask the Muslims and Christians who live there and suffer discrimination and the denial of their rights. You can also ask the Muslims and Christians who live under the barbaric occupation of Israel, which is letting its citizens rob their lands, murder their sons and imprison their children, wives and elders.
"No, Mr. Trump, your action [regarding Jerusalem] belies your claim that 'the decision is not... a departure from [America's] strong commitment to facilitate a lasting peace agreement.' How could rational thinking [possibly] lead you to such a conclusion? How can you achieve a 'lasting peace' when you endorse one of the sides' illegitimate claims to [sovereignty over] occupied lands? How can you claim that you 'are not taking a position on any final status issues, including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, or the resolution of [contested] borders' – when in fact you are endorsing Israel's claims[?]
"Oh Mr. Trump, your decision does not 'reaffirm your administration's longstanding commitment to a future of peace and security for the region.' On the contrary, it may encourage the most radical components of Israeli society to justify their arrogant claim to [sovereignty over] all of Palestine, for they will regard your decision as a green light to expel all the Palestinians from their lands and force them [to live] under the regime of a slave-driving state. Furthermore, your decision may have already encouraged Iran and its terrorist supporters to claim that they are the defenders of the Palestinian rights in the face of the imperialist aims of the U.S. and Israel. Where then is the 'future of peace and security for the region' in this situation? Even the exhausted terrorist elements have now received a shot in the arm that will help them attract volunteers and expand their criminal activity against innocent people throughout the world. Where then is the 'future of peace and security for the region' in this situation?
"No, Mr. Trump, how can you call for 'calm, for moderation, and for the voices of tolerance to prevail over the purveyors of hate,' when it is your decision itself that gives [the purveyors of hate] a shot in the arm? It is your decision that feeds them; it is the oxygen that revives them. No, Mr. Trump, don't send us your vice president [Mike Pence]. We will not welcome him. If you want to rectify your invalid and arrogant mistake, you can declare your recognition of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. Otherwise, spare us your obsequious words. We have learned from the people of so-called America that the White man speaks in two voices. We became familiar with this as early as 1917 [with the issuance of the Balfour Declaration]. Our King [Salman], his Crown Prince [Muhammad bin Salman], our government and our people condemn what you have done. Our King advised you to retract [your announcement]. For the sake of global peace and security, I beseech you to heed his advice."