Saudi King Salman (left) welcomes Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at Riyadh’s King Khalid International Airport in February 2015. (Thaer Ghanaim/PPO via Getty Images)

Palestine: Empty Words without Deeds

Al-Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, February 6

Palestine always has been, and still remains, the central priority for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This is a fact backed by documents, numbers and practical positions, not fake statements and red lines echoed by hypocritical leaders like Turkish President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan, who threatened to cut ties with Israel in the event that Jerusalem was declared its capital yet hasn’t lifted a finger in favor of the Palestinian people since. The kingdom’s policy is stable and does not change on this issue. It adhered to one single stance: a just and comprehensive peace between Israelis and Palestinians. This policy revolves around actual actions on the ground – that is, initiatives and continuous support for Palestinian unity and access to their independent state, with East Jerusalem as its capital. This stance was presented time and again by the kingdom, most notably in the courageous peace initiative it proposed at the Arab summit in Beirut in 2002. Only when a just and comprehensive peace is achieved will normal relations with Israel be established. In his book, the late Dr. Ghazi Abdul Rahman Al Gosaibi, a Saudi visionary and political leader, recounted that the Palestinians’ bitter experiences during the siege of Beirut taught them that the kingdom’s position was the only ray of hope in a night of darkness. All friends and allies shied away from them. Nobody came to the Palestinians’ aid. Under these circumstances, the kingdom’s relationship with the United States was the only thread of hope. Yasser Arafat called King Khaled on the phone and wept. However, the health of King Khalid began to deteriorate, and days after the [Israeli] invasion, he died in Taif. King Fahd stepped in and called US President Ronald Reagan several times by phone. When the Israeli invasion forces approached Beirut, the king demanded to wake the president up from his sleep. He played a big role during the negotiations that halted the Israeli forces on the outskirts of Beirut, and led to the withdrawal of the Palestinian resistance. Yasser Arafat emerged from the crisis with a deep sense of gratitude toward the kingdom, which he expressed in a long and influential telegram to King Fahd. This is just one of many historical examples that expresses Saudi Arabia’s clear, stable and unwavering policy on the Palestinian issue. As for those who only speak of the Palestinians to gain political capital, like Erdogan and his ilk, the continuation of Palestinian suffering only serves their goal. They should be the last to preach to us about commitment. – Yousef Al-Qublan (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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