Palestinian terror groups seethe over Saudi crown prince’s pro-Israel comments

PA silent on Mohammed bin Salman’s remarks recognizing Israel’s right to homeland; Hamas, PFLP, Islamic Jihad rage against Riyadh

Khaled Abu Toameh is the Palestinian Affairs correspondent for The Times of Israel

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends a meeting at United Nations headquarters in New York on March 27, 2018. (AFP Photo/Bryan R. Smith)
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends a meeting at United Nations headquarters in New York on March 27, 2018. (AFP Photo/Bryan R. Smith)

Palestinian terror groups on Wednesday accused Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of paving the way for “normalization” between the Arab countries and Israel.

Salman, in an interview published Monday, recognized Israel’s right to exist and extolled the prospect of future diplomatic relations between his kingdom and the Jewish state.

His remarks, which have enraged many Palestinians and Arabs, were made during an interview with The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg.

Asked whether he believes “the Jewish people have a right to a nation-state in at least part of their ancestral homeland,” he replied: “I believe that each people, anywhere, has a right to live in their peaceful nation. I believe the Palestinians and the Israelis have the right to have their own land.”

The Palestinian Authority chose to ignore Salman’s remarks in an apparent attempt to avoid triggering a crisis between Ramallah and Riyadh.

In a move designed to stave off such a crisis and to relay a message to the effect that the Palestinians were keen to remain on good terms with Saudi Arabia, PA President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday expressed “appreciation” for the Saudi monarch’s (Salman’s father) for his “fixed and constant support for the Palestinian cause and Jerusalem and its holy sites.”

Commenting on the younger Salman’s statements, Hamas leader Musa Abu Marzouk said in a tweet: “All those who are addressing the Americans and Zionists with ambiguous words and are talking about concessions in order to appease them are living under an illusion.”

Ahmed Yusef, a senior Hamas official in the Gaza Strip, accused Salman of waging a campaign to “market and promote” Israel in the Arab world.

“I’m surprised to see how this entity [Israel] can be marketed,” Yusef said. “This is a very dangerous matter that needs to be reconsidered. Regrettably, the virus of normalization [with Israel] has begun penetrating some Arab regimes, while the Arabs and Muslims remain categorically opposed to normalization with Israel. Normalization is a dangerous germ.”

The Palestinians, he added, are “capable of thwarting all these conspiracies.”

Wasfi Qabaha, a senior Hamas official in the West Bank, said that Salman’s statements were “part of a dangerous scheme aimed at liquidating the Palestinian cause.” The statements, he added, were aimed at paving the way for “full normalization between the Arab countries and Israel.”

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), one of several PLO terror groups, said that Salman’s statements “expose his role as patron of the American deal of the century, which is directed against Palestinian rights.”

The “deal of the century” is the phrase US President Donald Trump used to describe his long-awaited plan for peace in the Middle East.

Jamil Muzher, a senior PFLP official, said that the statements by the Saudi crown prince “reveal the malicious role that the Saudi regime is playing to undermine stability in the Arab region to serve Israeli and American interests there.”

Salman’s statements, he said, are aimed at “normalizing” relations between Saudi Arabia and the “Zionist entity.” The statements are also part of the efforts to build a coalition against Iran, Hezbollah and the Palestinian “resistance,” Muzher charged.

Salman’s statements, the PFLP added, are part of Riyadh’s effort to endear itself to the “Zionist entity and lobby.”

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror organization also condemned Salman’s statements, and said that the “Palestinian’s right to Palestine was absolute and not relative.”

Daoud Shehab, spokesperson for the terror group, said that Salman’s statements were “deplored and rejected.” Claiming that the statements were aimed at “appeasing the US and Israel at the expense of the rights of the Arabs and Muslims,” Shehab said that Salman’s views demonstrated “an obvious ignorance of the facts of history and the nature of the [Israeli-Arab] conflict.”

Recognition of Israel’s right to exist, Shehab added, was “void and illegitimate.” He claimed that Slaman’s views did not reflect those of the Arabs and Muslims. “Recognizing the Zionist entity poses a threat to our cultural identity,” he argued.

Also on Wednesday, Abdul Aziz Al Ishaq, Outreach Manager at Doha Center for Media Freedom, asked in a tweet to his 90,000 followers why Salman had not also recognized Jews’ right to parts of Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia, along with five other Arab countries, last year cut off their diplomatic relations with Qatar, citing the emirate’s alleged support for terrorism as the main reason. Since then, Qatar and Saudi Arabia have been engaged in a smear campaign against each other.

The campaign against Salman is currently being countered by another effort spearheaded by many Saudis and supporters of Salman throughout Arab and Islamic countries. They are calling Salman a “history-maker” and an “honest” and “brave” leader.

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