Face of the day

Saudi diplomat: Palestinians must shed image of victim

A Saudi diplomat tells “Globes” that the “Deal of the Century” could lead to a full Palestinian state.

[…] They say that the Saudi Arabian security forces used Israeli information and spyware in this incident and in other cases.

Saudi Arabian diplomat: 

“Israeli technology is advanced, and the Arab world, even those that hate you, admire Israel for its success and strive to imitate it. The Saudi Arabian security services use the best tools available. For us, too, national security is the most important thing.”

When will the connection with Israel be publicly acknowledged? When will an Israeli representative visit Saudi Arabia, as happened with the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Bahrain, and others?

“It’s just a matter of the right timing. You must understand that Saudi Arabia is deeply committed to the Palestinians, and has a responsibility to them, as shown by the king’s promise to Palestinian Authority chairperson Mahmoud Abbas in their recent meeting that he would not allow diplomatic initiatives that would harm the Palestinian leadership. At the same time, both the king and the crown prince are trying to persuade the Palestinians to seriously consider political and economic developments.”

Meaning the deal of the century?

“Yes, but not only that. The deal of the century has one major advantage: it has an economic framework for development of the entire region, and especially for the Palestinians. We and other countries are willing to make enormous investments in this – amounts that the Palestinians never dreamed of getting. If this framework gets going, they will get real independence, good education, employment, a healthy economy, and won’t be dependent on charity.”

The diplomat stops, hesitates, and says, “It may be hard for them to relinquish the image of the eternal victim. Maybe they don’t believe that they’ll be able to get along without it.”

The Saudi Arabian diplomatic has a surprise concerning the political issue. According to reports, Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, President Donald Trump’s senior advisors, are talking about a country with reduced authority, but the diplomat says that the plan will mean a real country for the Palestinians.

“As far as we know, the plan sets a clear path leading to full Palestinian independence at the end of the process. We also have objections to the US proposals in several areas, especially on Jerusalem and Haram esh-Sharif (the Temple Mount), but we believe that even on the most difficult questions, solutions can be found when people have full bellies and life is tranquil, meaning that the economic situation improves, there is no violence, and there is a real horizon. The Palestinians still don’t accept this.”

We reported in “Globes” in October that they were offered billions in order to begin negotiations on the basis of the full plan.

“Yes, the report reached us mainly after the US State Department tried to deny it, and then the Palestinians themselves admitted that it was correct. The plan has been through multiple versions. While the initial proposed investment in Palestinian territories was $10 billion, today it’s six times as much or more, and includes more countries, headed by Jordan and Egypt. Failure to consider this is irresponsible leadership.”

What does Riyadh think about the Israeli leadership – about Netanyahu?

“It seems to me that even your prime minister’s biggest rivals are aware of his great international capabilities, and we recognize his excellent connection with Trump, and also with Russian President Vladimir Putin. It’s clear to us, however, that in the Israeli political structure, it will be hard for him to push through a diplomatic plan with the Palestinians, and that’s one of the reasons that the Palestinians are being stubborn. They say, ‘We’ll sit and wait for something that’s better for us.’ We believe that when a decision has to be made, any Israeli leader, and Netanyahu, too, will choose the way of peace, because that’s what most of your people want.”

How does your side regard the partnership with Israel against Iran?

“Israel is the one that showed the world the Iranian danger, that its regime is distorting Islam and using terrorism against the countries in the region. What they don’t understand in Europe is that every commercial contract with Tehran gives money for terrorism, which will eventually also reach their people.”

Will Saudi Arabia go further and cooperate with Israel in a military operation against Iran?

“Recent events in the Persian Gulf showed that the US, in contrast to the Europeans, understands Tehran’s objective well. We and the US have clear proof that the Revolutionary Guards are behind the terrorist attacks against the tankers. The determination that Washington is showing indicates that there is no need for Israeli intervention, and that’s a good thing. I think that we won’t escalate into a real military event, because Iran has too much to lose from it.”

At the end of the conversation, the diplomat asked to send a message to Israelis: “This blood conflict has lasted too long. It’s clear to us – the Saudi Arabians, all of the Persian Gulf countries, Egypt, and Jordan – that the era of warfare with Israel has ended, and that the advantages of normal relations are very great. The entire Arab world can profit from it, not just the Palestinians, and you also, of course. History and Allah have brought a real opportunity to realize this, and I hope that you’ll take advantage of it.” […]