Saudi Arabia’s former intelligence chief and ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz, slammed the Palestinian leadership for criticizing the decision of some Gulf states to normalize ties with Israel.
In an interview with Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television aired on Monday, the prince labeled the Palestinian authorities’ criticism a transgression and reprehensible discourse.
The Palestinian cause is a just cause, and the Israeli cause is unjust but its advocates have proven to be successful. He said in the first of a three-part airing of the interview, that sums up the events of the last 70 or 75 years.
There is something that Palestinian leadership historically share in common, they always bet on the losing side, and that comes at a price.
The United Arab Emirates agreed a historic deal to normalize relations with Israel in August, and the Gulf state of Bahrain followed suit in September.
Palestinians fear the moves will weaken a long-standing Arab position known as the Arab Peace Initiative that calls for Israeli withdrawal from occupied territory and acceptance of Palestinian statehood in return for normal relations with Arab states.
President Mahmoud Abbas said the Palestinian leadership considered the UAE’s move as a betrayal. Palestinian negotiator Hanan Ashrawi told Reuters the deal was a complete sell-out.
Saudi Arabia has not directly commented on the normalization deals but has said it remains committed to peace on the basis of the Arab Peace Initiative.
Prince Bandar noted the long support of successive Saudi kings to the Palestinian cause and said the Palestinian people should remember that the kingdom has always been there for them to offer help and advice.
He said this low level of discourse is not what we expect from officials who seek to gain global support for their cause.
Experts and diplomats believe the kingdom has started shifting the public discourse on Israel, while Saudi Arabia is not expected to follow the example of its Gulf allies any time soon.