During a recent TV debate, Kuwaiti journalist Ali Al-Fadhalah called to establish relations with Israel, arguing that this would serve the Palestinians better than the boycott, which "did not accomplish anything." He objected to the term "occupation," saying that "Israel is by now a recognized country, and you cannot go against the world." Journalist Abd Al-Aziz Alqenaei came out in support of the Saudi peace initiative and said that "the Palestinian cause has become a pretext" that has "been exploited in an abominable and even inhuman manner." The debate aired on Al-Shahed TV on May 24.
Kuwaiti Journalist Ali Al-Fadhalah: Let's be realistic. Israel has become a state, which is recognized by the United Nations. It has a flag, and it exists physically on the map. The boycott did not accomplish anything. It did not get us what we want. So why shouldn't we play a role in building relations with Israel, so that we can exert political pressure? We would be able to use these relations to exert pressure on Israel. Relations between countries are built upon shared economic and political interests, and upon shared interests in science and health. Therefore, I believe that we should establish relations with Israel, so we will be able to exert pressure...
Moderator: But why? Palestine is occupied. Jerusalem is occupied.
Ali Al-Fadhalah: Says who?
Moderator: Israel has not given a thing to the Arabs.
Ali Al-Fadhalah: When we say "occupied," we are talking about our history, the history of several states. Israel is by now a recognized country, and you cannot go against the world. It is a state with a seat in the United Nations. It has been recognized by it.
Moderator: But we Arabs do not recognize this...
Ali Al-Fadhalah: If you don't recognize this, that's your business. I have my own opinion, and we can agree or disagree.
Moderator: Israel has killed and banished the Palestinians, occupied Jerusalem...
Ali Al-Fadhalah: What have we accomplished over the past 50 years with the boycott? We are weakening the Islamic nation. The issue is now in the hands of the United States and others. They are calling the shots.
Kuwaiti Journalist Abd Al-Aziz Alqenaei: I have noticed that some people have become more patriotic than the Palestinians. The Palestinians strive for peace, because they have tired of... And they made an agreement with Israel. They made a conditional agreement with Israel, they have made long-term agreements, and had long negotiation sessions. There are certain obstacles, but they continue to negotiate. They want to put an end to this issue, which has worn out their people, and worn out the region, ourselves included. The Arab-Israeli conflict has been going on for a long time, and has put many development projects on hold. It has turned Palestine into a pretext. Unfortunately, most Arab regimes use Palestine as a pretext. The liberation of Palestine passed through Kuwait [in the days of Saddam], and today, it is going through Syria... It has become a pretext...
Ali Al-Fadhalah: The Palestinian cause has been exploited...
Abd Al-Aziz Alqenaei: It has been exploited in an abominable and even inhuman manner. The people on both sides have been dying all this time. The solution is... I wholeheartedly support the initiative of the late King Abdullah, which was endorsed in the Arab summit of 2006 [sic]. It presented terms for normalization of relations with Israel, within the framework of concessions by both sides. Why aren't we striving to achieve this? Why do we always follow dreams and bombastic rhetoric? Let us be realistic and rational instead. Things change. It is the law of nature. We cannot go against reality and the universal order.
Ali Al-Fadhalah: If [Israel] occupied Palestine and drove out its inhabitants... Well, 60 years have passed, and the Palestinians have settled elsewhere, and they already have grandchildren and nationalities of other countries.