Mohammed bin Salman’s Palestinian state conundrum

Amit Halevi, Washington Times    April 22, 2024

Saudi Arabia’s official stance on the concept of a Palestinian state has undergone a notable shift in recent weeks. Since the Abraham Accords, Saudi Arabia has portrayed such a state as a distant, nebulous objective, leaving the impression of mere lip service.

Mounting pressure from the White House and certain segments of Saudi society, however, has compelled it to formally endorse the recognition of a Palestinian state. This move aligns with plans outlined in the “Arab Vision” document of the Forum of 6 made up of Jordan, Egypt, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, the Palestinian Authority and Saudi Arabia itself.

In doing so, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is revisiting his father’s previous arrangement with the Muslim Brotherhood, albeit with an increased risk of strategic missteps that could potentially devastate the entire Arab-Muslim world.

The original agreement was straightforward: Saudi Arabia would finance infrastructure and terrorist activities beyond its borders, such as in Afghanistan, in exchange for domestic peace and assurances of noninterference with its regime. Historically, this approach was how Saudi rulers engaged with extremist figures such as Osama bin Laden and leaders of al Qaeda and the Taliban, similar to how authorities in Egypt and Jordan managed radical Islamic organizations through various internal arrangements.

But while this approach may have achieved some success with al Qaeda, it is unlikely to yield similar results with a Palestinian state. To understand why, the crown prince should reflect on the historical crossroads faced by the Muslim world after World War I, considering the legacies of two influential leaders who once held positions he now occupies: Turkish President Kemal Ataturk and Saudi King Faisal.

Ataturk’s sweeping reforms shifted Islam from a totalitarian vision of imposing a caliphate through force to one embracing the authentic values of Abraham’s legacy: acknowledgment of national identity, respect for human rights, and the autonomy of individuals created in the divine image. These principles propelled Turkey toward significant revitalization and prosperity under the Turkish Republic he established.

This has been the enduring challenge of Islamic culture from that era to the present — the choice between Ataturk or Hasan al-Banna. The opposition of al-Banna and his followers to Zionism and Israel is one facet of the Muslim Brotherhood’s broader philosophy, aiming to return the world to Salafism. Israel, embodying modernity and standing at the heart of Dar al-Islam, has become a prime target, alongside Paris, Rome and Washington, the capital of the “Great Satan.”

Thus, Israel also presents an opportunity for the Arab-Muslim world to reaffirm the Abrahamic heritage within Islamic religious thought. Strengthening ties with Israel would encourage emphasis on principles of compassion and fairness shared by Abrahamic communities out of genuine respect for their biblical rights, as evidenced by the Abraham Accords. King Faisal’s endorsement of the Balfour Declaration in 1919, in an agreement with Chaim Weizmann, exemplifies this, advocating the mass return of the people of Israel to their homeland.

A Palestinian state would jeopardize this opportunity. Palestinian nationalism lacks constructive elements beyond the negation and destruction of Israel. Since Hitler’s ally Haj Amin al-Husseini assumed the position of mufti of Jerusalem with the objective of rallying Islam against Zionism, the “invented Palestinian project,” championed by Fatah and Hamas, has become a central force estranging the Arab-Muslim world from Abraham’s legacy and in advocating Israel’s destruction, perpetuating violence and barbarism.

Unlike other Arab countries formed through the 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement, Palestinian nationality lacks a distinct self-identity. It was conceived as a solely negative force, defining its existence through opposition. Consequently, wherever it operates, including Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and beyond, it is a destabilizing factor.

This underscores another strategic security concern emanating from a Palestinian state: Its proximity to Mecca is more significant than it appears. Unlike militant groups in the mountains of Afghanistan or Pakistan, a Palestinian state would become the largest training ground in the Middle East for radicalized forms of Islam.

The primary target would likely be Jordan, where, in conjunction with Iranians seeking to undermine the regime, the significant Palestinian majority might lead to its collapse and internal occupation. Other countries would also be targeted by Palestinian terrorism, but the ultimate aim would be Mecca. Thus, Palestinian hands would enable Iran to fulfill its ambitions to control Islam’s holiest site.

In addition to spearheading forward-looking projects such as the smart city under construction on the shores of the Red Sea and artificial intelligence initiatives, as the guardian of Islam’s holy sites, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman must uphold the values of rationality, morality and freedom within Muslim discourse, steering the Muslim world toward a positive and secure future. To achieve this goal, he must address the obstacle of the “Palestinian state,” which poses an imminent threat to the future of the region and the world.

April 23, 2024 | 2 Comments »

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  1. “radicalized forms of Islam”??? Do not confuse Islam with the practice of Islam! There is only one Islam, and that is the Islam of the Koran and Muhammad which commands Moslems to make war on non-Moslems until Islam dominates the world. Moslems may or may not follow these sacred commands in practice, but the commands remain sacred and an integral part of Islam. It is the “radical Moslems” who follow these sacred jihadist commands as strictly as possible.

  2. This illustrates that the Abraham Accords should be regarded as a Hudna and why Saudi Arabia should not be allowed to have nukes as part of any normalization deal. MBS is only one man and even he is buckling.