A few months ago, Saudi Arabia insisted that Palestinian refugees’ right to return to their homeland on disputed Israeli territory is “beyond discussion” and bringing up the United States reluctance to accept that principle in the recently proposed “deal of the century” for settling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is precisely for that reason, one that does not take into account the rights of the aggrieved Palestinians, that the deal is doomed to fail.
“The government confirms the right of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to return to their homeland, considering it fixed and established as well as not negotiable,” the foreign ministry tweeted, citing the Saudi Cabinet protocol.
The Saudis want a just and lasting peace, and one of the key points towards achieving those goals is the right to return to their homeland, the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who were forcibly uprooted from their lands and driven away by force and terror.
What about Israeli war crimes? Crimes against the people of Palestine? Daily crimes that have people living in a concentration camp, locked in by heavily armed Israeli soldiers and deprived of their basic human rights? Who speaks for them?
They were the lucky ones as they lived for another day. Many others perished under the brutal assault of the Israel forces, either through bombings of their towns and villages by aircraft, though sniping and murder by Israeli sharpshooters, or by the cutting down of Palestinian lives by illegal Israeli colonists that, crimes that continue to remain unpunished and smack of hypocrisy when western leaders espouse human rights.
Peaceful protesters against the illegal Israeli occupation have been selectively targeted and shot down. Even Palestinian women and children are not spared, daily victims of clubbing, arresting and shooting, without much chance to defend themselves.
Israeli war crimes
The fact remains that Israeli war crimes are well documented but rarely publicised. Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu is himself a target by the International Criminal Court for the various charges of crimes against humanity that have been carried out under his authority. Netanyahu rejected the allegations and criticised the International Criminal Court for stating that there existed grounds to investigate alleged Israeli war crimes, calling it an “absurd” decision that showed the court was being weaponised against Israel.
“As we’re moving forward to new places of hope and peace with our Arab neighbours, the International Criminal Court in The Hague is going backward. On Friday it finally became a weapon in the political war against Israel,” Netanyahu said. In defending his brutal expansion into the West Bank, Netanyahu argued that the decision went against “historical truth” of Jewish rights in the historic land of Israel. “It is acting against the right of Jews to settle in the homeland of the Jews. To turn the fact that Jews are living in their land into a war crime — it is hard for there to be a greater absurdity than this,” he scoffed. Instead, he suggested that the ICC was ignoring the “present truth,” and should be condemned for not ‘pursuing probes of Iran or Syria’.
Iran and Syria and for that matter Libya and other Arab countries in the region have always been under scrutiny and every discretion has been highlighted on the front pages or as breaking news in the world’s media. Their crimes are flashed in screens that can be seen in the Solomon Islands. And how convenient has that become for the Israelis? To escape much notice on their dastardly deeds, while attention is focused elsewhere? Rarely if ever have I heard a western leader publicly censure Israel for the crimes against humanity.
But what about Israeli war crimes? Crimes against the people of Palestine? Daily crimes that have people living in a concentration camp, locked in by heavily armed Israeli soldiers and deprived of their basic human rights? Who speaks for them? Or is it simply easier to ignore the whole issue and pretend it is not happening?
Whenever such a voice of concern is publicised, it is soon dismissed by the highly effective lobby Zionist sympathisers and pro-Israeli media as an act of anti-Semitism, something that scares most of those with a conscience from proceeding further. But if they are to pursue further, they would realise that the crimes being committed against the Palestinians are along the same model of the Nazi doctrine of apartheid and extermination. Only it is being done slowly and gradually.
Saudi Arabia continues to support the Palestinian cause be it with moral, diplomatic support or financial assistance to help defray the burdens of occupation. It also reiterates that a lasting peace is inclusive of justice for both sides.
— Tariq A. Al Maeena is a Saudi socio-political commentator. He lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Twitter: @talmaeena