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Saudi Arabia Says ‘Will Not Make Ties With Israel Official’

Saudi Arabia says it maintains its policy of not making ties with Israel official until there is peace with the Palestinians, Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan said on Wednesday, reports Jerusalem Post.

Farhan’s remarks were the first comments from a Saudi official on Israel and the UAE’s normalization agreement announced last week.

AFP reported it as a “breaking news” on social media.

Saudi Arabia is the Gulf’s largest economy and the world’s biggest oil exporter, but the UAE has in recent years become increasingly assertive in its own foreign policy.

Silence had reigned in the kingdom on the UAE/Israel agreement. The kingdom is a longtime figurehead of regional policy towards Israel, until the breaking of silence by its FM. It also leads the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

“To do so would risk losing public support at a time of significant economic crisis and would give a boon to Iran at such a delicate time,” said Neil Quilliam, associate fellow with Chatham House and managing director of Azure Strategy.

On Thursday last, the Arabic hashtag “Gulfis_Against_Normalization” was trending in third place in Saudi Arabia.

A Saudi intellectual shared a thumb’s up with us on WhatsApp today when asked to comment on the announcement.

Earlier, a leading Gulf intellectual hit a broadside when he was asked to comment on the agreement. “All the Arabs nations today are nothing but hypocrites who have sold their religion and deserve all the fate of misery that is now coming down on them. We are seeing just the beginning. They have lost the respect of all. Disunity is their way of life. God won’t leave them a place on earth to shelter from His wrath”.

We accepted his request to remain anonymous on quoting him.

The take on the agreement and Saudi silence on it has been kinda between rare meat and medium well in the largely Muslim populated region mideast to the fareast.

“Forget Palestine,” a defense and security analyst in Asia Pacific had said, when he was asked to comment on the UAE/Israel diplomatic ties which was announced last week.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan says his country will not recognize Israel until there is a Palestinian state acceptable to the Palestinians.

His remarks came days after the US-brokered deal between UAE and Israel to normalize relations.

The accord was a rare triumph for US President Donald Trump in Middle East diplomacy ahead of his November 3 re-election bid.

A senior Pakistani military official when asked to comment on the Saudi announcement, said, “The Arabs, specially the GCC have been badly exposed by Trump administration who plays hard ball. He has forced them to shed their farcical stand on issues involving Palestine and specially Israel”.

Days earlier, Pakistani army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa had visited Riyadh for damage control (observers say) after Islamabad sought a now or never from Saudi-led OIC on Kashmir’s annexation by India and “continued illegal steps being taken by Delhi”, say some observers.

Also a huge humanitarian crisis paints the Valley, independent reports indicate.

According to G R Baloch, a former Pakistani ambassador to Vietnam, “We have to take the (Saudi) statement on its face value!”. “There’s no reason apparently to doubt Saudi stated position”.

Kashmir is however becoming another Palestine, says an observer.

He was commenting on the UAE/Israel agreement and its impact on Palestine and the recent OIC-Kashmir episode.

Are all these issues together or getting convoluted? “Not so”, says an observer. “Pakistan will take principled stand on each”.

“We are in a habit of expecting other countries to adopt a foreign policy according to our wishes which is imprudent and foolish”, says Baloch.

According to the Pakistani military official, “a Gordian Knot is getting untied”–an independent observer alludes this to mean realignments.

“It’s an era of unhinged geopolitical rivalries”, he says.