EILAT, Israel – Breitbart Jerusalem was hard-pressed to find a single Palestinian Authority official willing to publically comment on Saudi Arabia’s newly announced “Islamic military alliance” purportedly forged to fight terror.
“Palestine” is listed as one of 34 Muslim nations who signed up to the new Muslim anti-terror coalition led by Saudi Arabia, which itself has long faced accusations of supporting Islamic extremist ideology.
Nabil Abu Rudaineh, the spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, told Breitbart Jerusalem he had no comment on the new alliance.
Breitbart Jerusalem directly phoned PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malaki, who also said he had no comment in the issue.
Breitbart Jerusalem spoke to one of the most senior officers in the Preventive Security Force, the PA’s main security organization. That officer was not even aware of the PA joining the new Saudi-led coalition until receiving the call from Breitbart Jerusalem.
The Preventative official phoned Breitbart Jerusalem minutes after the initial call to report that his agency has not been given any specific instructions about engaging in anti-terror activities with the Saudi coalition.
The official spoke on condition that his name be withheld for fear of being seen as publically criticizing Saudi Arabia. “No one here knows anything about what it is,” the official added.
In another unusual twist of events, Lebanon’s Foreign Ministry denied knowledge of the new Saudi-led coalition, while Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam made a statement implying his country was indeed an alliance member, Lebanon’s Daily Star reports.
The inclusion of “Palestine” already raises questions about the intentions of the Saudi alliance.
Following inquiries from news media outlets, WAFA, the official Palestinian news agency, released a statement from the PA Presidency welcoming the creation of the Saudi coalition. “Palestine will be part of this coalition after consultations with Saudi Arabia,” the statement added.
The PA regularly incites Palestinians to engage in violent attacks against Israelis. The PA’s official military wing, the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, is listed by the State Department as a terrorist organization. The Brigades is responsible for scores of deadly shootings, suicide bombings and rocket attacks.
Saudi Arabia has been facing mounting international criticism for not doing enough to fight the Islamic State. It has long faced accusations of financing extremist Wahhabi mosques that promote and export terrorist ideology.
Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Tuesday unveiled the coalition of 34 Muslim states, which he said would fight the Islamic State in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt and Afghanistan.
He branded terrorism a “disease which affected the Islamic world first before the international community as a whole,” and vowed the Riyadh-based alliance will take on “the Islamic world’s problem with terrorism and will be a partner in the worldwide fight against this scourge.”
Besides “Palestine,” other members of the 34-nation bloc include Turkey, the tiny African nation of Guinea, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Turkey, Chad, Togo, Tunisia, Djibouti, Senegal, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Gabon, Comoros, Qatar, Cote d’Ivoire, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Maldives, Mali, Malaysia, Egypt, Morocco, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, and Yemen.
Notably absent from the list is Iran, an arch Saudi foe.
It was not immediately clear exactly what the Saudis are expecting of coalition members. Bin Salman stated the new alliance would have a joint command center in Riyadh purportedly to coordinate the fight against radical Islamic terrorism.
“Nothing is off the table. A number of countries are in desperate need of assistance,” Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said.
“Terrorism has hit Islamic countries. It is time that the Islamic world takes a stand,” he told reporters in Paris.
Christopher Davidson, a professor at Durham University in the U.K. who specializes in Gulf affairs, told the Wall Street Journal he believes the new alliance was mainly devised as an avenue for Saudi Arabia to put out positive news regarding its own role in international affairs.
With additional reporting by Ali Waked.