Cracks in the relations between the Palestinian leadership and the Arab nations in the region began to appear after Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates signed the Abraham Accords normalizing relations with Israel in September 2020. Though Saudi Arabia did not sign the accords and does not have formal relations with Israel, news reports have surfaced indicating extensive behind-the-scenes diplomatic and intelligence cooperation between the countries based on the mutual threat posed by Iran. The Houthis, an Iranian proxy in Yemen, are actively attacking Saudi Arabia and the imminent Iranian nuclear weapons program poses an existential threat to Israel. Similar reports indicate a growing Israel-Saudi connection regarding Turkey which is a strong ally of Hamas.
The growing deterioration of relations between Saudi Arabia, the head of Sunni Islam and a major power in the Arab world, was reflected in an op-ed y, published on Sunday. Written by Mohammed Al Saed, the article was titled, “Is it time to break with the Palestinian cause?”.
The article begins by framing the Palestinian history from the Ottoman era, describing it as anti-Jewish and not a nationalist struggle for freedom. This developed into a shocking and direct accusation waged against the Palestinians:
In the year 1990, in the fiercest challenge faced by Saudi Arabia and the Arab Gulf states, following Iraq’s occupation of Kuwait, nobody was surprised by the Palestinian leadership’s support for Saddam. Both inside Palestine and in the diaspora, the Palestinians chanted in favor of Saddam and called for him to kill the Saudis and destroy their cities with internationally prohibited weapons. The chants of “Chemical, Saddam, from Khafji to Dammam” still resonate in the Saudis’ memory today.
32 years have passed since the invasion of Iraq, and the Palestinians have come out time and again against the Saudis in demonstrations, rallies, and burning flags, the last of which was at the beginning of this week in support of the Houthis, and their demand that the Iranian backed terrorists bomb Saudi cities and their civilian targets. The years have changed and the Palestinians have not. They are on the same path, making the same wrong choices, and holding the same grudges that hardly leave their elders until their young ones inherit them.
In my opinion, it is time for a break with the Palestinian cause, for the Saudis did not cause [the problem] and do not bear responsibility for the major crimes the Palestinians committed against themselves, from rejecting the [UN] partition plan and not finishing the Oslo Accords of 1993…
The estrangement with the Palestinians and their cause is of great interest to the entire region, and the most important issue for the Saudis and the peoples of the region today is their daily lives, their future and the future of their children. Saudi Arabia has suffered enough for Palestinians, paid a lot for them, overlooked a lot, and borne its burdens…There is no enemy that they have not aligned themselves with. For what, and for whom do we sacrifice our money, positions, and political alliances?
They deliberately act as an obstacle to Arab countries’ development. Every country that tries to work for its future is obstructed by the [Palestinian] cause and burdened with it, and one can see this with a simple look at Cairo, Baghdad, Damascus, Jordan, Beirut, and every land that the Palestinian cause has trampled upon.
The Palestinians have to live with the mistakes of their fathers and grandfathers. They are not the liberators who sacrificed for their lands as the Vietnamese did, nor are they the skilled politicians who managed their cause professionally and justly as the Indians, except for their wrong alliances, selling lands by consent and acceptance, and agreeing to employment and contracting to any forces that intersect with their psyches and thinking, from Baghdad, the Baath in Damascus, and the new Persians in Tehran and Saada, and the implementation of the policies of the Mongols of the hour in Ankara and Istanbul.
The claim of this op-ed was graphically illustrated by massive demonstrations in Gaza on Saturday night in support of the Houthis. The demonstrations came in reaction to Saudi-led coalition airstrikes targeting Houthi military targets in Hodeidah, Yemen last week killing at least 70. Dozens of protesters chanted “Death to the House of Saud” and “American is the Great Satan,” according to an English translation provided by the Washington-based watchdog MEMRI.
— MEMRI (@MEMRIReports) January 23, 2022
On Sunday, Hamas, the duly elected government of Gaza, tried to distance itself from the beliefs of its constituents. “The shouts against Arab and Gulf states from our Palestinian arena don’t represent our position and policy,” Hamas said in a statement.
Ten days ago, the Houthis launched a missile attack, the second in one week, targeting al-Dhafra airbase in Abu Dabi, UAE. The base is hosting the U.S. military. The attack, comprised of two Zulfiqar ballistic missiles was blocked by U.S.-built Patriot interceptors. The first attack on January 17 hit a fuel depot in Abu Dhabi, killing three people.
At the same time, a Houthi missile attack in southern Saudi Arabia injured two people.