[Photo: Father kissing shoes of son who was killed by Israel as he couldn’t find parts of his body]
By Fouad al-Ibrahim
Al-Akhbar: It has become clear that the issue mainly revolves around disarming the Palestinian Resistance at any cost, everything else is just for show. According to new information, efforts towards this goal have been led by Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in coordination with the United States (US) and Israel.
Someone asked one of the Palestinian officials about the reason for cancelling Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ visit to Saudi Arabia to meet King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz. He replied, “it’s the cold.” The person inquiring commented laughing, “it must be a political cold.”
Cancelling a meeting with the Saudi king can always be attributed to health reasons. The diseases that the king suffers from are enough to end speculations about reasons for the cancellation.
Riyadh has decided to shut the door completely in Hamas’ face for being an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood. It did not want to open a direct communication channel with the leaders of the movement. It so happens that this time the relationship between the parties involved in the Palestinian cause in the moderate camp, particularly, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey and Qatar, is not only bad, it is actually the worst it has ever been. There is no communication between Riyadh on one hand, and Doha and Ankara on the other. Ankara is not on good terms with Cairo and Hamas is not welcomed in either Cairo or Riyadh. Not to mention the relationship between this camp and the Resistance axis. There is no longer an opportunity for a rapprochement between Riyadh and Tehran. Even the thin thread that connected them has been cut off after the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) entered the regional and international fray by seizing control of Mosul and other parts of Iraq.
Information indicates that Riyadh was putting together a shocking proposition… to pave the way for a new phase characterized by disarming Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
Information indicates that Riyadh was putting together a shocking proposition for Abbas, namely, sending his soldiers to the Rafah crossing to pave the way for a new phase characterized by disarming Hamas and Islamic Jihad while Saudi Arabia and the UAE will pay whatever it takes to accomplish this goal. It should be noted that the Palestinian factions themselves had suggested to Abbas sending soldiers to the Rafah crossing to demonstrate their willingness to cooperate and reach a reconciliation agreement as long as that fulfils the needs of the people of Gaza.
Abbas felt that the Saudi proposal represents political suicide for him and the Palestinian people and that it is intended, ultimately, to undermine national reconciliation and ignite a Palestinian civil war, especially after sensing the efficacy of the Resistance even in negotiations with Israel. Abbas cancelled his trip from Amman to Jeddah after receiving information about the Saudi offer and returned to Ramallah having decided to address his people directly. He said the main reason behind the Israeli aggression is to“abort the national reconciliation process.” He spoke of the need to “take the Palestinian cause out of the political crossfire,” and stressed “the Palestinian leadership’s insistence on national unity and ending internal divisions.” He also embraced the conditions of the Resistance even though he did say the priority is to end the Israeli assault on Gaza.
All the Palestinian Resistance factions received Abbas’ message with a sense of relief. Some went as far as to describe it as a state of Abbas’ transfiguration when he is liberated from the pressures of his allies and friends.
There was also the surprise visit that the emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, made to Jeddah to meet King Abdullah on July 23. The visit did not last for more than two hours during which the Saudis told Sheikh Tamim that there is no alternative or parallel initiative to the Egyptian initiative. The Qataris understood that there is a new condition before the Saudi, Emirati and Bahraini ambassadors return to Doha, namely, accepting the Egyptian initiative as is and ending support for Hamas.
The optimism of the Qatari leadership waned. The Qataris had hoped to turn a new page with Saudi Arabia, but Sheikh Tamim left the meeting with King Abdullah convinced that the “brothers in Riyadh” have not changed. They act as though the other Gulf countries are nothing but satellite states of the Kingdom of the House of Saud.
Information made available to the emir of Qatar indicates that Saudi Arabia and the UAE are trying to disarm Hamas and the Palestinian Resistance movements through the Egyptian initiative as part of a plan hatched with the Israelis and the Americans. The Saudis were trying to impose the plan on Abbas during a meeting that was planned with King Abdullah before Abbas received information about the Saudi proposal. This proposal is in total contradiction with what Saeb Erekat said about the summary of the meeting between Abbas and Khaled Mishaal in Doha on July 12, namely, “stopping the Israeli aggression and lifting the siege off of the Gaza Strip,” as well as taking the changes to the Egyptian initiative proposed by Hamas into consideration.
Saudi Arabia refused to make any changes to the Egyptian initiative and asked all parties to support it even though the initiative treats the victims and perpetrators as though they are equal despite the sharp discrepancy in the balance of power between both sides. The Egyptian initiative also fails to even condemn Israeli crimes against Gaza or to reference the rights of the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip and the rest of occupied Palestine.
In any case, the secrets that the Egyptian initiative conceals are revealed by the US and Israeli statements. It appears that the objective behind the Israeli war on Gaza has become known, namely, to disarm the Resistance. Anything else that might be said beyond that is meant to conceal a plan that was prepared at an earlier stage.
There are Israeli positions that match almost entirely the Saudi, Emirati and Egyptian approach. The former Israeli defense establishment official and the current director of the Political-Military Affairs Bureau at Israel’s Defense Ministry, Amos Gilad, said recently: “Our security cooperation with Egypt and the Gulf states is unique,” and “This is the best period of security and diplomatic relations with the Arabs.” Was that a leap in the dark? It does not seem so. There is other information that confirms more than that.
An article by David Hearst in the World Post on July 20 titled Attack on Gaza by Saudi Royal Appointment might seem like incitement against the kingdom. But when considered alongside statements by major officials in Israel, it becomes reality and not fabrications. The article offers commentary on statements by Israel’s former defense minister, Shaul Mofaz and his successor David Ayalon. This royal warrant is “nothing less than an open secret in Israel, and both former and serving defense officials are relaxed when they talk about it,” according to Hearst.
On July 20, Mofaz issued a surprising statement calling for a role to be allocated for Saudi Arabia and the UAE “to disarm Hamas and other Resistance groups.” Mofaz told Israel’s Channel 10 that it would be impossible for the Israeli army to demilitarize the Gaza Strip by force even if they decide to re-occupy it completely. That is why, this issue requires a comprehensive, diplomatic, political and economic plan to achieve such an objective. He added that Saudi Arabia and the UAE can, under current circumstances, play an important role in providing the necessary funds to carry out this plan.
“Our security cooperation with Egypt and the Gulf states is unique… This is the best period of security and diplomatic relations with the Arabs.” – Israel Defense Ministry official Amos Gilad
On July 14, Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot reported from government sources news of Israel’s intention to put forward a proposal to the United Nations (UN) Security Council to provide $50 billion to rebuild Gaza in return for pacification and disarming Hamas and the Palestinian factions. The newspaper quoted these sources saying: “Israel wants to obtain international guarantees, such as those that have been agreed upon in the Syrian chemical weapons disarmament deal.”
Palestinian sources close to Hamas and the Islamic Jihad are talking about generous offers by Gulf states to Abbas to do what it takes to disarm the Resistance in return for rebuilding the Gaza Strip, lifting the economic siege and devising a comprehensive development plan in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE are trying to mobilize support for the Egyptian initiative regionally and internationally despite the international community’s inaction in supporting the ceasefire initiative. Even the US secretary of state, John Kerry, seemed less enthusiastic than before in supporting a ceasefire after Israel’s intransigence. Saudi Arabia was not included in his schedule of visits to discuss Gaza. This raises questions about the seriousness of the US effort, or does a division of roles require that?
In the end, Palestinian Resistance movements in Gaza are not willing to concede one iota of their conditions, despite the fact that this round of Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip is the fiercest compared to earlier rounds. The military wings of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other Palestinian Resistance factions are now stronger, and they will decide the fate of the battle and the course it will take on the ground. Palestinian Resistance sources speak optimistically about Abbas’ positions in his message to to the Palestinian people. For the first time, he makes the Resistance rockets part of the struggle against the Israeli occupation.
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.