KHALED HAMOUD Al-KAHTANI
COKOMBO Anyone who follows history is fully aware that the position of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on the Palestinian issue has been constant and has not changed since the time of the founder, King Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman Al Saud until this day, which is to support the rights of the Palestinian people, who face arrogance from the Israeli occupation forces and unacceptable violations.
The Kingdom has always been one of the first countries to support the Palestinian cause and has repeatedly stressed that this issue – and no other – is the first Arab issue, which all Arabs and Muslims should support. So that the Palestinians can achieve everything they seek and aspire to, by establishing their independent state, with East Jerusalem as its capital. Since its founding until today, the Kingdom has worked to support the Palestinian cause, within a moral framework dictated by its Islamic religion and Arab culture, endangering its national security many times for the sake of the Palestinian cause, which all its Kings believe in since the era of the founder until the era of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz. For example, but not limited to the following:
- In 1945, the late founder, King Abdulaziz said: “The issue of Palestine is the most important thing that occupies the thoughts of Muslims and Arabs.”
- The famous historical meeting that brought together King Abdulaziz with US President Roosevelt in 1945, where the king presented the Kingdom’s point of view, recorded in books and letters, that the Palestinian issue will remain the first constant issue in the Kingdom’s policies over the years.
- The late King Saud bin Abdulaziz formed popular committees to help the freedom fighters and families of the martyrs of Palestine after the setback of June 1967, and entrusted their chairmanship to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz when he was the governor of the Riyadh region, through twelve offices that covered most of the cities of the Kingdom.
- The late King Faisal stressed in the Second Arab Summit held in Alexandria in 1964, the inevitability of demonstrating the Palestinian presence and providing it with all means of continuity. He provided five million British pounds as a donation to form five commando brigades working to liberate Palestine. He also stopped oil supplying to the West in the October War.
- The late King Faisal said at the Muslim World League conference in April 1965, in Mecca, “I cannot ignore an issue that is your issue, and I do not present it from its political perspective, but I present it as the issue of all Muslims on earth, and this issue – brothers – It is the issue of lost Palestine.”
- When Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982, King Khaled ordered the supply of weapons and ammunition to Palestinian fighters from National Guard and Army warehouses, and he paid five million dollars from his own account to Yasser Arafat when he came asking for more support.
- The late King Fahd affirmed in a Hajj sermon in 1986: “We give all our attention to the issues of the Islamic and Arab nations through joint action, at the forefront of which is the Palestinian issue.”
- At the Jerusalem Summit in 2000, the late King Abdullah affirmed when he was the Crown Prince that “East Jerusalem is an Arab issue that cannot be compromised. It cannot be abandoned under any circumstances. The responsibility to preserve Jerusalem and liberate the occupied territories falls on all of us.”
- This Saudi moral constant was evident in the words of King Salman: “One of the priorities of the Kingdom’s policy and principles is to seek to find a just and lasting solution to the Palestinian issue in accordance with the Arab Peace Initiative. The Kingdom will continue its efforts in support of this issue in order to establish the Palestinian state with its capital Jerusalem and restoring rights to the brotherly Palestinian people.”
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has participated in many conferences and meetings related to resolving the Palestinian issue, including King Fahd bin Abdulaziz’s peace project at the Arab Summit held in the Moroccan city of Fez in 1982, which was approved by the Arab countries and became the basis for the Arab peace project and later for the peace conference in Madrid in 1991. Passing through the road map and the Arab Peace Initiative, which was proposed by King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz (the Crown Prince at the time) and adopted by the Arab countries as a unified project at the Beirut summit in March 2002 to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict, as the initiative called on the Israeli entity to commit to implementing relevant international legitimacy resolutions. The connection, which stipulates complete withdrawal from all Arab territories occupied since 1967, including the city of Jerusalem, the removal of settlements, and guaranteeing freedom of worship and the practice of religious rituals for all religions in the holy places.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia also affirms the right of the Palestinian people to establish their independent, fully sovereign state on the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital, and the return of refugees. The Kingdom has constantly called on the international community to intervene urgently to stop the aggressive and repeated Israeli attacks and atrocities against the Palestinian people.
In this context, the Kingdom condemned the Israeli occupation’s construction of the separation wall and the apartheid expansion, which annexed vast Palestinian lands, and submitted a memorandum of protest to the International Court of Justice in The Hague condemning Israel’s construction of the wall. The court ruled that this wall was illegal and demanded that Israel remove it.
Today, when we look at the reality of Saudi-Palestinian relations, we realize the magnitude of the qualitative shift made by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, in which the relationship with the Palestinian issue was transformed into a creative interaction. He looked at the Palestinian issue from a spiritual, national, psychological, emotional, and humanitarian perspective. He set his sights – from an early age – on the Palestinian issue and was linked to it by his origins and commitment as a supporter of the Palestinian issue. His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Crown Prince and Prime Minister is well-known for his firm position on the Palestinian issue and his sober defense of it, in which he is based on self-confidence, confidence in justice, rationality of the Palestinian issue and awareness of the facts on the ground for a cause based on truth, justice and logic. He announced clearly that he stands with the Palestinian cause.
In 2018, in response to the announcement of the so-called “Deal of the Century” under which the United States of America recognized the city of Jerusalem as the capital of the occupying state, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, announced during the opening session of the 29th Arab Summit, which was held in the Saudi city of Dhahran, the naming the summit as the “Jerusalem Summit”. The final statement of the Jerusalem Summit affirmed the rejection of the US administration’s decision regarding Jerusalem, and that East Jerusalem is an integral part of the Palestinian land. He reiterated that the Palestinian issue is the first Arab issue and will remain so, until the Palestinian people obtain all their legitimate rights. Most notably the establishment of their independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
The blatant violation that Palestine is witnessing today, specifically in Gaza, by the Israeli occupation forces, which killed children, women, and the elderly, and displaced thousands of Palestinians. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia called on the international community to carry out its duties, as the 32nd Arab Summit, which was hosted by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the city of Jeddah, reaffirmed On the centrality of the Palestinian issue to Arab countries, as it is one of the main factors for stability in the region. In the Jeddah Declaration, issued on May 19, 2023, the leaders condemned the atrocities and violations that target the lives, property, and existence of Palestinians. They stressed the importance of intensifying efforts to reach a comprehensive and just settlement of the Palestinian issue and creating a real horizon for achieving peace based on the two-state solution, in accordance with international references. Most notably the Arab Peace Initiative, relevant international resolutions, and the principles of international law to ensure the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with sovereignty over the territories. The Palestinian territories within the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital. The Jeddah Declaration also called on the international community to assume its responsibilities to end the Israeli occupation and stop the repeated attacks and violations that would obstruct the paths to political solutions and undermine international peace efforts.
His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince and Prime Minister, also affirmed in his speech at the Gulf States and ASEAN Summit on October 20, 2023, which was held in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: “It pains us as we gather to see the escalating violence that Gaza is witnessing, the price of which is being paid by innocent civilians.” In this regard, we affirm our categorical rejection of targeting civilians in any way and under any pretext, the importance of adhering to international humanitarian law, the necessity of stopping military operations against civilians and infrastructure that affect their daily lives, and creating conditions for the return of stability and the achievement of lasting peace that guarantees reaching a just solution. To establish a Palestinian state according to the 1967 borders, in a way that achieves security and prosperity for all.
In the final statement of the joint Arab-Islamic summit held in Riyadh on November 11, 2023, the leaders of the Arab and Islamic countries urged to stop the war on the Gaza Strip, and they rejected describing the Israeli retaliatory war as self-defense or justifying it under any pretext. The leaders also called for ending the siege imposed by the Israeli occupation on Gaza and forcing the entry of Arab, Islamic and international humanitarian aid convoys into the Strip. In its final statement, the summit condemned the Israeli aggression against Gaza and “war crimes and barbaric, brutal and inhuman massacres committed by the colonial occupation government”. The leaders of the Arab and Islamic worlds called all the countries to “stop exporting weapons and ammunition to Israel.”
In light of this, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, His Highness Prince Faisal bin Farhan, in his speech before the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly in September 2023, affirmed the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s rejection of any unilateral measures that hinder the solution of the Palestinian issue and work to undermine peace efforts.
On October 18, 2023, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom, His Highness Prince Faisal bin Farhan, held a series of meetings with several foreign ministers of member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation on the sidelines of the urgent, open-ended extraordinary meeting of the Executive Committee of the Organization. He stressed during these meetings that the Kingdom is making possible efforts to communicate with all international and regional parties to stop the ongoing escalation.
His Highness Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah, Minister of Foreign Affairs, also participated in the high-level discussion session of the Security Council on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian issue, on October 25, 2023, at the invitation of His Excellency the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Brazil, Mauro Vieira, where Brazil holds the presidency of Security Council of this month.
His Highness the Minister of Foreign Affairs delivered a speech in which he clearly affirmed the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s clear condemnation of the targeting of civilians by any party. He said: “The Kingdom called for the necessity of stopping the escalation and killing, releasing the hostages, and adhering to what is required by international conventions and laws.” He added: “The leadership of the Kingdom made Intensive efforts to communicate with brotherly and friendly countries in order to find an urgent and practical solution that stops the escalation and puts an end to the bloody cycles of violence.”
He added: “What we witness from the international community’s laxity so far in working to immediately stop the collective punishment carried out by the Israeli war machine against the residents of Gaza and forced displacement attempts will not bring us any closer to the security and stability that we all seek”. His Highness stressed that the time has come for the Security Council to assume the responsibilities for which it was established, and for the international community to take a firm and serious stance to stop Israeli violations, ensuring the protection of civilians, ending the siege, and ensuring the rapid entry of humanitarian and relief aid, such as food, water, and medicine, in order to prevent from occurring a humanitarian catastrophe and expansion of the conflict, endangering regional and international security. He added: “The inability of the Security Council to carry out the role assigned to it in maintaining international peace and security, and its failure to reach a resolution that addresses this crisis, in light of the ongoing Israeli violations of international conventions, including international humanitarian law, calls into question the reliability of international legitimacy mechanisms, the credibility of their defenders and its ability to achieve peace.”
His Highness the Minister of Foreign Affairs held meetings and phone calls with his counterparts in many brotherly and friendly countries, during which he reviewed the developments in the military escalation in the Gaza Strip, where he stressed the importance of implementing Security Council resolutions on the Palestinian issue, specifically No. 242 (1967) and 338 (1973). ) and “1515” (2003) and “2334” (2016) in order to establish a just and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian issue in accordance with the relevant international references, renewing Saudi Arabia’s categorical rejection of targeting civilians in any way, and the importance of an immediate ceasefire and securing humanitarian corridors for the entry of urgent relief aid and stopping the forced displacement of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip. His Highness the Prince Minister of Foreign Affairs also issued numerous statements in which he expressed the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s condemnation in the strongest terms of the blatant targeting by the Israeli occupation forces, and the Israeli violations of all international laws and norms in the Gaza Strip, stressing that the only future is an immediate ceasefire. There is no way to reach stability in the region except through peace, and peace will not be achieved except with the establishment of the State of Palestine.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia does not stop providing all possible assistance to the Palestinian brothers. The Saudi support for the Palestinian cause and the Palestinians are various and manifold, between political, diplomatic and humanitarian support, which is what the Kingdom provided in the past days. Since the outbreak of the war waged by the Israeli occupation on the Gaza Strip, the last form of this support was the directive of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and His Highness the Crown Prince to launch the popular Saudi campaign through the “Sahim” platform of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center to provide relief to the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip. This support came as an extension of the Kingdom’s firm position towards the dangerous military developments in Gaza and its environs, where the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, made a personal donation in the amount of 30 million Saudi riyals, and His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Crown Prince and Prime Minister, made an amount of 20 million Saudi riyals. The total donations collected through the “Sahim” platform as part of the popular relief campaign for the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, amounting to more than 518 million Saudi riyals, as of November 17, 2023, while the donations are still continuing.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia also continued to provide relief to those affected inside the Gaza Strip by air and sea. As the Saudi relief planes began arriving at Al-Arish International Airport in Egypt, in addition to the Saudi ships, in preparation for transporting relief items to those affected inside the Gaza Strip. It carries on board various relief aid amounting to thousands of tons, including food, medicine and shelter materials, as part of the popular campaign to relieve the brotherly Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, which was directed by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Crown Prince and Prime Minister. This comes within the framework of Saudi Arabia’s historical role, which is known to stand with the brotherly Palestinian people in the various crises and tribulations they are going through.
It is worth noting that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has provided material and moral support to Palestine since the beginning of the Palestinian issue. The following tables cover the lists of the aid along with the type of the aid sector.
Top ten sectors:
|Description||Amount in USD|
|Development aid-budget support||2,343,666,667|
|General humanitarian aid – multi-sector||1,063,938,530|
|Development aid – multi-sector||675,000,000|
|General humanitarian aid – shelter and non-food items||312,508,838|
|General humanitarian aid – early recovery||303,376,752|
|General humanitarian aid-health||188,074,543|
|General humanitarian aid – food and agricultural security||125.170.011|
|General humanitarian aid – education||63,748,185|
|Development aid – government and civil society||50,000,000|
|General humanitarian aid – support and coordination of humanitarian operations||29,032,695|
|The total amount of aid provided||5,187,114,254|
The total number of projects implemented in Palestine based on the type of sector:
|Description||No of Projects|
|General humanitarian aid – food and agricultural security||63|
|General humanitarian aid-health||40|
|General humanitarian aid – shelter and non-food items||33|
|General humanitarian aid – multi-sector||32|
|General humanitarian aid – early recovery||18|
|Development aid-budget support||18|
|General humanitarian aid-education||17|
|General humanitarian aid – support and coordination of humanitarian operations||15|
|General humanitarian aid – water and 4environmental sanitation||04|
|Total number of projects||274|
The writer is the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to Sri Lanka
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