European Countries Prepared to Recognize Palestinian State amid Ongoing Saudi Pressure

The United States vetoed last week a United Nations Security Council resolution that recommended Palestine's full membership in the world body. (AFP)
The United States vetoed last week a United Nations Security Council resolution that recommended Palestine's full membership in the world body. (AFP)
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European Countries Prepared to Recognize Palestinian State amid Ongoing Saudi Pressure

The United States vetoed last week a United Nations Security Council resolution that recommended Palestine's full membership in the world body. (AFP)
The United States vetoed last week a United Nations Security Council resolution that recommended Palestine's full membership in the world body. (AFP)

Secretary General of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization Hussein al-Sheikh stressed that several countries, specifically European ones, have changed their positions and are willing to recognize an independent Palestinian state “as soon as possible.”

In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, he said this stance will push forward the implementation of the two-state solution in line with international law.

On Monday, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah had shed light on the diplomatic pressure the Kingdom has been exerting to reach international recognition of an independent Palestinian state.

He made his remarks at the High-Level Forum on Regional Security and Cooperation between the European Union (EU) and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in Luxembourg that was held days after the United States vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution that recommended Palestine's full membership in the world body. The veto angered the Palestinians and sparked wide Arab criticism.

Nevertheless, Prince Faisal spoke on Monday of “very significant” changes in Europe in regard to more countries leaning towards recognizing a Palestinian state.

He added that the EU and GCC meeting was an opportunity to further push towards that goal.

Saudi Arabia has declared that recognizing a Palestinian state and ending the war on Gaza must come first before any agreement with the US that includes normalizing relations with Israel.

It underlined this position in February in wake of remarks by White House National Security spokesperson John Kirby.

In a statement, the Saudi Foreign Ministry said it told Washington it will not open diplomatic relations with Israel unless an independent Palestinian state is recognized on 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital and Israel ends its war on Gaza and withdraws all of its forces from the enclave.

Riyadh reiterated its call for permanent members of the UN Security Council that have not recognized a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital to do so.

An Arab source revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, and Al-Sheikh will hold a meeting with the EU next week to discuss the recognition of a Palestinians state. They will also hold an Arab consultative meeting and a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

A spokesperson for the Saudi embassy in the US told CNN on Wednesday that the country’s position is that establishing relations with Israel is contingent on ending the war in Gaza, recognition of a Palestinian state and establishing an irrevocable and irreversible pathway towards a two-state solution and establishing a Palestinian state.

Regarding a timetable, the Kingdom is working diligently to achieve these goals as soon as possible, the spokesperson said, according to CNN.

Saudi weight

Al-Sheikh told Asharq Al-Awsat that Saudi Arabia’s political activity related to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict stems from the Kingdom’s firm, clear and unyielding position in support of the Palestinian people’s legitimate rights.

“Riyadh is employing its Arab, Islamic and international weight through calm diplomacy and in partnership with brothers in the Arab world and friends around the world to mobilize all this activity to isolate Israel and condemn its behavior, on the one hand, and support Palestinian rights on the other,” he added.

The priority at the moment lies in ending Israel’s “criminal war in Gaza and the West Bank and ensuring the withdrawal of its forces,” he stated.

He revealed that a political plan is in place, and it has received near international consensus. The plan is based on international resolutions and laws that would end the Israeli occupation and lead to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

“We are witnessing successive accomplishments on all regional and international levels in wake of Saudi Arabia’s spearheading of this political activity,” he said.

European shift

Furthermore, Al-Sheikh noted the “major shift” in the positions of several countries towards the Palestinians. Many countries, specifically European ones, are ready to recognize an independent Palestinian state as soon as possible.

This favors the two-state solution, he stressed.

Since the eruption of the conflict in Gaza in October, the US has stressed its support to the two-state solution, and yet, it still used its veto against the Security Council resolution on Palestine’s full membership at the UN.

Al-Sheikh said this position is the “greatest evidence of the United States’ isolation.” He slammed it for “flagrantly” using its veto against international will, but “people and countries all over the world support the Palestinian people’s legitimate rights and struggle for freedom and independence.”

In addition, he remarked that the American veto helped “bolster the conviction of several countries of the need to speed up the recognition of a Palestinian state and grant it full UN membership.”

“The world is aware of the oppression and injustice suffered by the Palestinian people and the cover the US is granting the Israeli occupation in its aggression against our people,” he went on to say.

Meanwhile, chairman of the Gulf Research Center Abdulaziz bin Sager said: “Saudi Arabia was leading intense diplomatic efforts to persuade the greatest number of European countries to recognize a Palestinian state without waiting for the UN will do so.”

He said it is pursuing recognition on a bilateral level because the recognition of Palestine at the UN is unlikely to happen any time soon.

He stressed the importance of the recognition, saying it will pave the way for the implementation of the two-state solution and send a message to Israel to change its practices. It also gives hope to the Palestinians and would help ensure the success of peace efforts in the region.

In the meantime, dialogue will continue between the Americans and concerned Arab countries over their vision to end the war on Gaza and the establishment of a Palestinian state, he added.

Jamaica’s Foreign Minister Kamina Johnson Smith announced on Wednesday that her country was recognizing the state of Palestine, making it the 142nd country to do so.

Also on Wednesday, Irish FM Micheal Martin said his country was working with its partner countries in the EU to recognize the state of Palestine.

Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Thursday that Madrid was committed to recognizing the state of Palestine, adding that the two-state solution was the only way to achieve peace and security in the region.



Saudi Arabia Expresses Concern over Military Escalation in Yemen after Israeli Airstrikes

The flag of Saudi Arabia (Asharq Al-Awsat)
The flag of Saudi Arabia (Asharq Al-Awsat)
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Saudi Arabia Expresses Concern over Military Escalation in Yemen after Israeli Airstrikes

The flag of Saudi Arabia (Asharq Al-Awsat)
The flag of Saudi Arabia (Asharq Al-Awsat)

Saudi Arabia expressed its deep concern on Sunday over the latest military escalation in Yemen after the Israeli attacks in the Houthi-controlled Yemeni port of Hodeidah.
The statement stressed that these developments "exacerbate the current tension in the region”.
In a statement on X platform, the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs said: “The Ministry is following with great concern the military escalation in Yemen following the Israeli attacks that targeted Hodeidah province on Saturday, July 20, 2024,” emphasizing that “these developments aggravate the current tension in the region and undermine ongoing efforts to end the war in Gaza”.
The ministry also called on all parties to exercise maximum restraint and to distance the region and its people from the dangers of war. It also called on the international community and active influential parties to fulfill their responsibilities to end conflicts in the region.
Moreover, the ministry affirmed the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's continued efforts to end the war on Gaza and affirmed its continuous support for peace efforts in Yemen to spare its people more suffering and achieve security and peace in the region.
On Sunday, Brigadier General Turki Al-Maliki, the spokesman for the Saudi Ministry of Defense, affirmed that Saudi Arabia has no relation to or participation in the targeting of the Yemeni city of Hodeidah. 
He emphasized in a statement posted on the ministry's X platform account that Saudi Arabia will not allow its airspace to be violated from any direction.