Saudi Author Ahmed Al-Arfaj: Normalization of Ties with Israel Is on the Agenda; We Have a Greater Problem with Iran
When asked about possible normalization of ties with Israel, Saudi author Ahmed Al-Arfaj said that "we don't need to love each other, but we must coexist." "At some point, when we get there – yes, I will support normalization," he said. Al-Arfaj, speaking on Rotana Khalijiyya TV on October 25, advocated leaving the Palestinian problem up to the Palestinians and said that Israel is not the main problem right now, citing Saudi Arabia's problems with Yemen, Qatar, and Iran.
Ahmed Al-Arfaj: Saddam Hussein came along and said: "I will burn half of Israel." But Saddam is gone, and Israel has grown stronger. Along came Al-Qadhafi and said: I will burn the other half." But Al-Qadhafi is gone, and Israel is stronger. Thousands of people came after them, saying... Along came (Egyptian singer) Shaaban Abdel Rahim, and said: "I hate Israel and love Amr Moussa." Now Amr Moussa is gone, and Israel has survived. Now we are hearing the same tune... We should be achieving things through dialogue, through negotiations, by means of money, by means of cleverness. Screaming has never achieved any results.
Interviewer: When you say "dialogue," do you mean normalization of ties with Israel?
Ahmed Al-Arfaj: Normalization is on the agenda, whether we like it or not. Israel is not what it used to be 40 years ago. Israel is an independent entity, whether we recognize it or not. It influences America and has great stature. We must not make emotional decisions...
Interviewer: Do you support normalization (of ties with Israel)?
Ahmed Al-Arfaj: At some point, when we get there - yes, I will support normalization.
Interviewer: What about now?
Ahmed Al-Arfaj: Cutting ties with Israel is unhelpful. Normalization does not mean that we have to make peace. We don't need to love each other, but we must coexist. The Palestinians should get their rights, in the true sense of the word. Let me tell you, we shouldn't talk about it as if we live in Palestine. Let the Palestinian talk about it. There are reasonable people among them. Normalization may come at some point in the future. We don't know. Things change with time. Nobody knows what politics have in store.
Interviewer: Do you think normalization of relations with Israel could take place soon?
Ahmed Al-Arfaj: I think that this issue comes and goes. I don't think that Israel is the main problem right now. You have an enemy in Yemen, problems with Qatar, and the greatest danger comes from Safavid Iran. I don't think we have a problem with Israel as much as we have a problem with Iran.