A Saudi journalist in a recent column called on the Palestinians to negotiate in earnest with Israel because their reliance on so-called armed resistance constitutes “political suicide” and the Arab world is losing interest in their cause.
According to a translation of his column published by MEMRI, an NGO that monitors Middle Eastern media outlets, Muhammad Aal Al-Sheikh called on all Palestinian factions to recognize that a two-state solution with Israel is the only way forward.
Sheikh cited the new White House and Congress, which he said are favorable toward Israel, and the fact that much of the Arab world is mired in its own problems and is not as committed to the Palestinian cause as it used to be.
According to MEMRI, Sheikh’s column sparked a lively debate in the Arabic-speaking Twittersphere, with reactions both supporting and opposing his opinion.
The column was published in January in the official Saudi paper Al-Jazirah.
Titled “The Palestinians Have No Chance But Peace,” the article criticizes all Palestinian factions that call for “armed resistance” – largely a euphemism for terrorist attacks – and maintains that insisting on violence will end up hurting the Palestinians more than anyone else.
“Seven out of the ten biggest [donors] supporting the [candidates] in US congressional elections are Jews; moreover, the Jewish organization AIPAC is the most influential and important lobby in the US. These two facts together transform the US Congress into a parliament that protects Israel and helps it [even] more than the Israeli Knesset itself does,” Sheikh claimed without citing proof.
“I think that many Arabs, especially the Palestinians in Gaza who purport to be devout Muslims [i.e., Hamas], do not understand this reality and its implications: it means that Israel derives its power and its global status from the US, which is practically the most powerful country on earth. Russia – which some Arabs have begun betting on as the [potential solution] to their problems – likewise sees Israel as a red line due to the power and influence of the Jews there,” he continued with his conspiracy theory.
He then went on to say that Israel enjoys much support among EU countries, “as well as Britain, Canada and Australia.”
“In light of this, it can be said that relying on armed resistance to confront all of these global powers, while making the option of peace, especially the two-state solution, a more remote possibility – as implied by the statements of radical Palestinians nationalists and of those purporting to be devout – constitutes a kind of political suicide that only political ignoramuses [can] condone,” wrote Sheikh.
“I know the Israelis oppose the proposal of the two-state solution and attempt to evade it. [Moreover,] this position of theirs was recently endorsed by the U.S. Congress, when it denounced the forceful resolution [recently passed] by the Security Council against the construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank … without so much as mentioning the two-state solution. But I believe that the two-state solution is the only available solution that can be demanded and which enjoys the support of most of the international community,” he added.
“The insistence of the left-wing nationalists and the politically biased people who purport to be devout, whether Sunni or Shi’ite, on calling for resistance ultimately serves the interests of the Israeli right,” he continued. “[This insistence] provides [the Israeli right] with excuses that strengthen its position, which [seeks to] prove that the Palestinians do not want peace or a solution [to the conflict], but rather war.”
Sheikh wrote that another thing the Palestinians “need to understand is that the Arabs of today are not the Arabs of yesterday, and that the Palestinian cause has lost ground among Arabs.”
The Palestinian cause, he wrote, “is no longer a top priority for them, because civil wars are literally pulverizing four Arab countries, and because fighting the ‘Islamic’ terrorism is the foremost concern that causes all Arabs, without exception, to lose sleep. It is folly to ask someone to sacrifice [tending to] his own problems and national interests in order to help [you solve] your own problems…”
“All I can say to my Palestinian brethren is that stubbornness, contrariness and betting on the [support of] the Arab masses are a hopeless effort, and that ultimately you are the only ones who will pay the price of this stubbornness and contrariness,” Sheikh concluded.
The article, shared by the author on his Twitter account, received praise and agreement from several readers, but others, especially Palestinians, accused Sheikh of colluding with the “occupier.”
“Go to hell, you depraved supporter of the Zionists. Palestine belongs to the Palestinians, the Arabs and the Muslims alone. There can be no peace with an occupier, and what was taken by force will only be taken back by force,” one user lashed out at Sheikh, MEMRI documented.
A user from Riyadh noted that Palestinian violence is a societal ill that may outlast a resolution of the Palestinians’ conflict with Israel.
“[Even] if Israel withdrew from all the occupied territories, we would still see the Palestinians fighting each other, because Fatah wants to rule and Hamas thinks it is worthier [of that role],” he wrote.