RIYADH (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia’s former intelligence chief and ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz, said the kingdom must focus on its own interests and security while supporting the Palestinian cause.
In the final episode of a three-part interview with Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television aired on Wednesday, Prince Bandar once again criticised Palestinian leaders.
“We are at a stage in which rather than being concerned with how to face the Israeli challenges in order to serve the Palestinian cause, we have to pay attention to our national security and interests,” he said.
Prince Bandar previously in the interview criticised the Palestinian leadership for their “transgression” and “reprehensible discourse”, in opposing the decision of some Gulf states to normalise ties with Israel.
The United Arab Emirates agreed a historic deal to normalise relations with Israel in August, and the Gulf state of Bahrain, a close Saudi ally, followed suit in September. Palestinian leaders regarded the deal as “betrayal”.
Palestinians fear the moves will weaken a long-standing pan-Arab position – known as the Arab Peace Initiative – that calls for Israeli withdrawal from occupied territory and acceptance of Palestinian statehood in return for normal relations with Arab states.
The deals are seen as a strategic realignment of Middle East countries against Iran. Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, has not directly commented on the normalisation deals, but has said it remains committed to peace on the basis of the Arab Peace Initiative.
Prince Bandar said Palestinian leaders had high regard for “new players into the picture” such as Iran and Turkey, than Riyadh and other Gulf countries.
“Turkey occupies Libya and wants to liberate Jerusalem by withdrawing its ambassador from Abu Dhabi. Iran wants to liberate Jerusalem through the Houthis in Yemen or through Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria,” he said.
He spoke at length about the decades-long support of successive Saudi kings and other Gulf countries to the Palestinian cause, adding that the denial of these efforts from Palestinian leaders will not affect the attachment to the cause.
“Things are clear and we are at our limit with those guys,” he said.
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