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How Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the Arab League Confronted the War on Palestinians

How Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the Arab League Confronted the War on Palestinians

Thursday, 27 May, 2021 - 11:00
Fouad Siniora
Former Lebanese prime minister.

We and the world will remember the revolt of Al Aqsa and Sheikh Jarrah’s youths against being banned from praying at the Aqsa Mosque and against the attempts to force the Arabs out of Jerusalem and seize their properties. We will also remember the war waged against Gaza’s youths, seniors, women, stones, trees, and its underground for the fourth time in a few years. The world will remember how Palestinians united and expressed solidarity, including the Palestinians whose only nationality is Israeli, proving the authenticity of their belonging and their determination to attain their rights regardless of how far the Zionists go in dismissing them and keeping them in the dark.

The world will also remember the US Representative to the Security Council’s insistence on preventing the Council from deciding on a ceasefire despite ten days of destructive war having gone by. Some Arab countries also did their part, expressing solidarity and providing various forms of assistance, especially the Arab Republic of Egypt, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and The Republic of Tunisia- the Arab member of the Security Council- all of whom worked relentlessly.

We should mention here the Arab foreign ministers’ meeting, that of the foreign ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and finally the United Nations General Assembly’s meeting following several futile Security Council talks.

However, the Arab and Palestinian masses had been expecting much more from their Arab brothers, whether in terms of joint diplomatic mobilization or confrontation of the war on Palestine, now and over the past few years. The same is true for the crises afflicting other Arab countries like Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, and Yemen, which are suffering from being subordinated and having their sovereign decisions seized from them.

True, there is concern from one or more Arab states for several of the region’s exacerbating crises, but joint action, as had previously been said, remains absent or weak, making the Arab region’s strategic imbalance worse. For each of these crises, including the Palestinian question, there is a whole host of reasons, from Israel’s continuous and destructive aggressions to Iran’s flagrant interference in and subordination of several Arab countries, as well as the roles played by the Turks and Russians. And behind this are conflicting regional and international agendas or forces divided amongst themselves over the implementation of international resolutions, restoring stability, and how to fix national states’ institutions and reconstruct this or that devastated country.

At the forefront of all this is the Palestinian cause, the cause of ending the Israeli occupation and establishing an independent Palestinian state within the borders of June 4, 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital, as had been stipulated by the relevant international resolutions and the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative. This cause, which brings all Arabs and Muslims together, must not slip from our hands into the mire of the Israeli enemy’s latest assault on Jerusalem and Gaza; Arab and international efforts should not be limited to facilitating ceasefires in between two wars.

Of course, there is no shame in resorting to the international community, especially when it comes to the Palestine cause. However, Arab endeavors to support the Palestine cause and other causes could become more effective, appreciated by and beneficial to the Palestinians if they were collectively undertaken on three levels:

-The level of influence on the international community.

- The level of influence on intervening countries.

-The level of direct assistance to the Palestinian people collectively.

They must always be geared towards the two-state solution as it was outlined in the Arab Peace Initiative relevant international resolutions. Naturally, it will not be realistic to expect Arab nations to exert such influence, except through:

-Restoring joint Arab action within the framework of the League Arab, with its various bodies and delegations.

- Agreeing to common policies regarding the Palestinian cause and the other causes or crises afflicting our Arab countries.

Still within the context of the common Arab interest, the challenges of which were drawn in the Arab Summit of 2007, especially through what was called the Riyadh Declaration, an initiative supported by the Arab Republic of Egypt and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, along with Arab Gulf states that established a framework for retrieving the Arab decision from weighty regional forces trying to control that decision.

Joint Arab action has declined sharply as a consequence of division or disregard for the crises sweeping through the Arab world, including the Palestinian cause. However, this division or disregard did not only threaten the previously mentioned countries in crisis but all Arab states, as it encourages other regional and international actors to challenge their sovereignty, stability, and development.

Therefore, it is in the Arab countries’ interest to revitalize the Arab League’s standing and activities either unanimously or through a majority decision firmly supported by the Arab Republic of Egypt and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Much has been said previously about the problem being the stipulation in the Arab League’s Charter that decisions can only be taken unanimously or that the problem is that some countries have been falling short of fulfilling their obligations. Both matters are significant. However, most significant is general political will, which does not appear to be available so far. What can be depended on, in the end, is the actualization of objectives, not declarations of intentions.

The fact is that, over the past few years, we have seen the Egyptian Republic become increasingly active in addressing various issues to which Egypt’s and the Arab world’s interests are tied. Egypt’s recent involvement in the last Israeli war on Jerusalem, Gaza, and Palestine attests to that.

The world has witnessed the significance of the role Egypt played in facilitating the ceasefire, and we have also witnessed Egypt’s willingness to aid the Palestinians in Gaza directly through opening crossings, providing medical supplies, treating hundreds of wounded Palestinians in Egypt, and, finally, providing financial aid to finance reconstruction projects.

Like it took action on Palestine, Libya, Sudan, Iraq, and Lebanon, it is hoped that Egypt’s increased activity will progress to revitalize the Arab League, especially since it is also the country that hosts the League’s headquarters. The Arab League’s recovery and the affirmation of its significance for regional Arab security and the security of every Arab country are what Egyptian authorities have ensured are safeguarded - and would interfere to protect if necessary.

There is both Egyptian and Saudi political will, and they both have the size and capacities. In addition, most Arab states recognize the strength of both Egypt and Saudi Arabia, as well as their will, roles, and capabilities. The Egyptian and Saudi pursuit of the revitalization of joint action to support the Palestinian cause and resolve other Arab crises is welcomed and appreciated.

The past decade has been dangerous for Arab security and stability. Furthermore, the Palestinian cause has returned to the fore (it is the root of all problems), proving that it is still a priority for Arabs, regardless of how hard Israel (and whoever carries its banner) tries to diminish or eliminate it. We are, therefore, all awaiting Egypt and waiting to see it play its historical role as the Arab world’s mediator. We also await firm, decisive, and appreciated Egyptian-Saudi cooperation to develop effective policies that aim to further Arab national, political, economic, and cultural development in a way that paves the road for the restoration of strategic balance in the Arab region… The wait will not be long, God willing!

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