Habib Al Sayegh, editor-in-chief of the UAE daily Al-Khaleej has heavily criticized Arab figures seeking to normalize relations with Israel.
Rabat – Habib Al Sayegh, editor-in-chief of the UAE daily Al-Khaleej, has condemned all Arab invitations to visit Israel.
In a recent editorial, he strongly denounced the suggestion of open relations with the “Zionist state.” He also denounced the justification of Israel’s actions against Palestinians and demanded the boycott of Israel’s advocates.
Al-Khaleej is among the oldest newspapers in the UAE. It is published in Sharjah and has always referred to Israel as the “Zionist enemy.”
In one article, Al Sayegh said that “voices rise here and there, rushing to Israel, aiming to visit and support it, expressing their sincerest signs of love and loyalty.”
“Although we recognize that these voices are few and with limited impact, they are, as is apparent, increasing fast and perhaps the reason is us turning a blind eye,” Al Sayegh added.
He also stressed how these voices should not be ignored or overlooked. He continued, “some have even taken shameful positions which no sane person would take.”
Arab visits to Israel
Last July, the Saudi blogger Mohammed Saud visited Israel at the invitation of its Foreign Ministry. He was harassed and cursed at while visiting the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City. A video of the incident shows a child spitting at Saud while others yelled at him to leave.
Al Sayegh described Saud, “who called himself Saudi media” as miserable when he was expelled from old Jerusalem. For Al Sayegh, the blogger deserved what “Jerusalem Arabs did to him.”
The UAE editor-in-chief has criticized a number of figures, such as Anwar Eshki, Saudi Intelligence General, and Abdul Hamid Al-Ghabin, a Saudi writer, who failed, despite great efforts, to promote visits to Israel.
Eshki had stated, in May 2018, on BBC that “Palestinians are Saudis, we do not have to defend them… and Israel had never assaulted Saudi Arabia despite being suspected of being an enemy.”
Al Sayegh also sharply attacked Kassab al-Otaibi, a former Saudi dissident, and described him as “the worst of all, who dared deny the sanctity and importance of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the importance of Jerusalem as the eternal capital Palestine.”
He further wondered “who authorized the normalizers (those in favor of normalizing relations with Israel) to speak on behalf of everyone?” stating that “no one has the right to talk on behalf of all Saudis or people of the Gulf, and then choose whether Israel or Iran is the enemy.”
“Israel is a real and natural enemy to us, as it is the enemy of our Palestinian brothers,” he affirmed.
Al Sayegh continued, “Israel, which did not fire at us once, is the enemy all Arabs have been united against, even if just with their hearts, conscience, and speech, indifferent to the transformations of the world around them.”
“Israel is the 1948 ‘Nakba’ (Palestinian exodus), the 1967 ‘Naksa’, the massacres of Bahr El-Baqar, Qana, Sabra, and Shatila. Israel is the thorn planted in our throats and the strange piece forcibly attached to us.”
Al Sayegh concluded by saying, “we dislike Israel, the idea, the project, the danger, the impact, the fear, and the racist religious entity, and we do not want to visit it. We support our Palestinian brothers in Palestine and everywhere.”
Israel and the Gulf countries
According to The Times of Israel, “though Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and UAE condemned Jerusalem for deadly Gaza clashes, relations have been quietly warming up.”
The Israeli news outlet affirmed that despite Arab states resoundingly condemning the killing of more than 50 Palestinians in the Gaza protests of May 2018, “behind the scenes fears over Iran have divided Arab leaders, with some willing to quietly reach out to Israel.”
In an article by TheNewsArab, Suzan Quitaz reported that “despite both countries’ (Israel and Saudi Arabia) efforts to keep their relationship as covert as possible, there are well-documented reports indicating extensive behind-the-scenes diplomatic and intelligence cooperation between the two countries, in quest of mutual goals.”
In an interview Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman gave to The Atlantic Magazine in spring 2018, he stated: “there are a lot of interests we share with Israel and if there is peace, there would be a lot of interest between Israel and the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council).”
More recently, at the ceremony held on May 14 to mark the relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Jared Kushner said “from Israel to Jordan to Egypt to Saudi Arabia and beyond, many leaders are fighting to modernize their countries and create better lives for their people.”
“In confronting common threats and in pursuit of common interests, previously unimaginable opportunities and alliances are emerging,” he added.
According to The Jerusalem Fund for Education and Community Development, This week, the UAE participated in “Iniohos 2017,”a joint military exercise with the air forces of Greece, Italy, the United States, and Israel. The UAE also participated in the “Red Flag” exercise in Nevada.
“The UAE’s collaboration with Israel goes beyond these multiparty training exercises,” says Mohamed Mohamed, Executive Director of The Jerusalem Fund and Palestine Center.
“In 2015, Israel established its first diplomatic mission in the UAE in order to represent itself at the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), which is based in Abu Dhabi,” he continued.
As the Gulf countries draw closer to the US, and therefore Israel, amid tension with Iran, the Al-Khaleej editorial is not the only voice to call for Arab support in Palestine.
Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit also called on Arab countries to support the Palestinian Authority to overcome the stifling economic pressures facing the Palestinian government.
Despite participating in the Manama conference on the US-led Middle East peace plan known as the “Deal of the Century”, Morocco maintained its “constant” position on the Palestinian cause.
During Jared Kushner’s visit to Morocco on July 31, Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita emphasized that the country is steadfast in its stance to support the establishment of “an independent, sovereign, and viable Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem as its capital.”