THE Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) have censured the latest comments by Saudi Arabia’s former intelligence chief and ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz against Palestinians and their cause.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri, in a brief statement released last Thursday, slammed the Saudi prince’s remarks during an interview with Saudi-owned al-Arabiya television news network aired earlier this week as ‘regrettable’.
Abu Zuhri underlined that such comments ‘only serve the Occupation (Israeli) regime’.
Separately, Saeb Erekat, Secretary General of the Executive Committee of the PLO, said in a post published on his official Twitter page: ‘Whoever among Arabs that wants to present their credentials to Washington or elsewhere, or wants to pave the way for normalisation with Israel, can do so without defaming Palestinian people and their legendary struggle.’
Former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz calls the Palestinian leadership’s criticism of the UAE normalisation deal with Israel ‘reprehensible’.
Bin Sultan told al-Arabiya TV that Palestinians took the Riyadh regime’s support for granted, slamming the Palestinian leadership for criticising the decisions of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain to normalise relations with Israel.
Israel and the UAE agreed to a US-brokered deal to normalise relations on August 13th. Under the agreement, the Tel Aviv regime has supposedly agreed to ‘temporarily’ suspend applying its own rule to further areas in the occupied West Bank and the strategic Jordan Valley that Netanyahu had pledged to annex.
While Emirati officials have described the normalisation deal with the Tel Aviv regime as a successful means to stave off annexation and save the so-called two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Israeli leaders have lined up to reject the bluff of Abu Dhabi’s crown prince and de facto ruler of the UAE, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, that Israel’s annexation plans were off the table.
A new survey shows Arab nations are fundamentally opposed to the recognition of Israel and establishment of ties with the regime.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has underlined that annexation is not off the table, but has simply been delayed.
The former Saudi spy chief then harshly criticised the Palestinian leadership for what he deemed to be repeated missed opportunities to reach an accord with the Israeli regime, and for taking Saudi aid while ignoring the Riyadh regime’s political agenda.
Bin Sultan also accused the Palestinian leadership of aligning itself with Iran and Turkey against the conservative Persian Gulf monarchies.
Relations between the Palestinians and Persian Gulf kingdoms have been declining for years.
The Palestinian Authority has not received aid from the UAE since 2014, while Saudi Arabia began aggressively jailing and prosecuting Hamas members in 2017.
In an international conference in the Gaza, Muslim scholars and Palestinian factions stressed that the normalisation deals have not undermined the Palestinians.
Experts and pundits believe Saudi Arabia has started shifting the public discourse on Israel, and bin Sultan’s statements are in line with warming ties between the kingdom and the Tel Aviv regime.
Netanyahu signed the deals with the Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al Zayani during an official ceremony hosted by President Donald Trump on September 15th.
Palestinians, who seek an independent state in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, with East Jerusalem as its capital, view the deals as a betrayal of their cause.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas protested the normalisation deals with Israel, saying they will be fruitless as long as the United States and the Israeli regime do not recognise the rights of the Palestinian nation and refuse to resolve the issue of Palestinian refugees.
- Syria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Bashar al-Ja’afari, has denounced economic sanctions imposed by the United States on his war-ravaged country as one of the daunting challenges the Damascus government faces on the path of reconstructing the country and bringing the Syrians’ life back to normal.
Speaking at the 75th session of the Second Financial and Economic Committee of the UN General Assembly on Thursday, Ja’afri called on the UN not to strictly limit its activities to the humanitarian aspect, but to extend them and include development projects.
He also urged the world body to stay away from politicisation bids and offer the necessary support that the Syrian government needs to foster development in the crisis-ridden Arab country.
Moscow, Tehran, Beijing and Damascus rap the US for imposing new crippling sanctions against war-ravaged Syrian economy.
‘One of the greatest challenges facing Syria is the unilateral and coercive measures against Syrian people, and the UN Secretary General António Guterres has called for their removal in light of the Covid-19 pandemic,’ the diplomat pointed out.
The United States recently imposed a round of sanctions against Syria known as the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act.
The sanctions came into effect on June 17th – six months after being signed into law by US President Donald Trump – targeting individuals and businesses anywhere in the world that operate directly or indirectly within the sphere of Syria’s economy. This includes entities that help the Arab country produce oil or fight terrorism in any way.
The US economic measures have effectively blocked imports of essential goods, impacting the Syrian people’s access to medical equipment, food, fuel, natural gas, and electricity.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Ja’fari reiterated Syria’s condemnation of the Israeli occupation of the strategic Golan Heights as well as Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem al- Quds.
Syria’s permanent representative to the UN and other international organisations in Geneva reiterates his country’s call for Israel to end its decades-long illegal occupation of the Golan Heights.
The Syrian UN ambassador went on to say that the Tel Aviv regime incessantly loots and exploits natural resources in the occupied Golan Heights and Palestinian lands, harming and endangering lives in the areas.
Israel seized the Golan Heights from Syria in the closing stages of its 1967 Six-Day War with Arab countries, which also saw the regime occupy the Palestinian territories of the West Bank, East Jerusalem al-Quds and the Gaza Strip.
The Tel Aviv regime unilaterally annexed the Golan Heights in 1981 in a move not recognised internationally.
Syria has repeatedly reaffirmed its sovereignty over the Golan Heights, saying the territory must be completely restored to its control.
In March 2019, US President Donald Trump signed a decree recognising Israeli ‘sovereignty’ over the occupied Golan during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in Washington.
- Russia says Armenia and Azerbaijan have agreed to attend peace talks in Moscow amid fighting in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova made the announcement on Friday, saying both Armenia and Azerbaijan had confirmed they would send their delegations.
‘Baku and Yerevan have confirmed their participation in the consultations in Moscow. Active preparations are underway,’ Zakharova told reporters.
Russian President Vladimir Putin had earlier invited the foreign ministers of the two sides to peace negotiations in Moscow.
A high-ranking Russian official warns that the Nagorno-Karabakh region could become a launch pad for terrorists to enter Russian territory.
Karabakh is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan, but it has been under Armenia’s control since the early 1990s, when the territory declared secession which led to a bloody war.
The recent clashes between Azerbaijan and Armenian forces – the worst in decades – erupted on September 27, with both Yerevan and Baku accusing each other of provocation.
Fighting between Azeri and Armenian forces over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh territory has escalated.
On Friday, the two sides fought new clashes, with Azerbaijan’s defence ministry saying there had been fierce fighting during the night along the line of contact that divides the two sides in Karabakh.
Fighting has continued despite the start of a peace drive by the United States, France and Russia.
Azeri Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov agreed to attend talks with the three powers on Thursday in Geneva but no details of the meeting have been released.
Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan did not attend the Geneva talks but reports said he was expected to meet Russian, French and US officials in Moscow today.
The warring sides have ignored repeated calls to cease military hostilities.
Khankendi, the main city in Karabakh which ethnic Armenians call Stepanakert, was under shelling since Friday morning, the territory’s self-proclaimed defence ministry said.
Washington, Paris and Moscow have led mediation over Karabakh for almost three decades as co-chairs of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Minsk Group, but they have failed to settle the conflict.
The sticking point is four UN resolutions which call for unconditional withdrawal of military forces from the occupied territories, with Armenia preferring rather to maintain the status quo.
A ceasefire has been violated repeatedly since the end of a 1991-94 war that killed about 30,000 people.
Azerbaijan said last Thursday that 31 Azeri civilians have been killed and 154 wounded since September 27th. It has not disclosed information about military casualties.
Karabakh said last Friday 376 of its military personnel and 22 civilians had been killed since September 27th.
Azeri President Ilham Aliyev’s main demand for a ceasefire is for Armenia to set a timetable for a withdrawal from Karabakh and surrounding Azeri territories.
Armenia has ruled out a withdrawal from the territory and instead accused Turkey of military involvement in the conflict.