No official Saudi decision has been issued regarding its failure to recognise the Jordanian temporary passport, typically issued by the Jordanian government to Palestinians residing in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Jordan. Saudi Arabia has, for some time, left statements on normalisation, general relations with the Israelis, and disregard for the Palestinian cause to unofficial spokesmen, including princes, writers, intellectuals, and former intelligence officers, in order to avoid the criticism of the Arab public and to be able to claim its innocence if attacked by the media. Such statements were made by Anwar Eshki, Prince Turki, and sometimes by Mohammad bin Salman.
It is clear recently that Saudi Arabia has been suffering from obsession or hysteria regarding the Palestinian cause, as if the Israelis have stipulated that they turn against the Palestinian people if they want the Israelis to take a strong stand against Iran. This is logical because Saudi Arabia is trying with all its might to find a champion for itself that would fight Iran on its behalf, but neither the US or the Israelis have responded to this request so far. However, Saudi officials appear to be optimistic.
The facts on the ground and within the Saudi consulate in Amman confirm that Saudi has decided to withdraw the recognition of the temporary Jordanian passport. This is a decision that has significant negative repercussions on the Palestinian people, at least at the current stage.
From a religious point of view, this decision affects a large number of Palestinians who want to perform Hajj and Umrah, especially if they live in Jerusalem. A Palestinian can obtain a Palestinian passport, but this passport does not enjoy the immunity of some countries, and requires the issuance of another passport, albeit temporary. The problem for the people of Jerusalem is severe, as if in the case that a Palestinian from Jerusalem obtains a Palestinian passport, the Israelis would expel them from Jerusalem because it is impermissible under Israeli arrangements to have a Palestinian passport and stay in Jerusalem. This effectively means the displacement of the people of Jerusalem or some of them and contributing towards emptying the city of its Palestinian population.
Palestinians have been fighting for years since 1967 to remain in the city and preserve its holy sites, but they have not been spared from receiving harsh blows to their hearts. The Saudis may want to push the Palestinians to search for a way to obtain an Israeli passage document (laissez-passer) so that they can travel to Saudi Arabia, and this would establish an Israeli partnership in the Muslim sanctities in Makkah and Madinah. The Palestinian people need someone to support them in order to preserve the Arab territories and the Muslim and Christian sanctities, but it seems many Arab governments are unhappy with this. Saudi Arabia’s decision prompts us to emphasise the fact that the holy Hijaz does not belong to Saudi Arabia, but to the Muslim nation, and therefore, a Muslim committee should be formed in order to manage the affairs of the holy sites, oversee issues related to Hajj and Umrah, and deal with all the Muslims and Hajj and Umrah activities Islamically.
Judasation of Jerusalem
Politically, Saudi Arabia’s decision is consistent with the aspiration to accelerate the Judaisation process of Jerusalem, and supports the Israeli Judaisation policy. It was hoped that the Arabs would stand firmly with Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, but they did not. There was also the hope that they would come up with an Arab plan to stand in the face of Israeli Judaisation, but they also failed to do so. They are unable to do so because the remainder of the Arab regimes in power is in the hands of the Israelis and Americans. The American president has repeatedly addressed the Gulf leaders and said he would lift his security umbrella from over them if they rebelled against his policies and did not give him money for protection.
Support for settlements
Restricting the Palestinians in this manner or any other manner is a form of support for Israel’s settlement policy, not in Jerusalem, but throughout the West Bank. Not to mention the fact that many young people feel that life is closing in on them and will decide to leave to other countries, while the US pressures some countries to host Palestinians without any obstacles.
The Saudi decision does not only affect Palestinians living in Palestine and Jordan, but also Palestinians residing in Egypt, Iraq and Lebanon. Some Palestinians carry travel documents, not official passports, and they will also be subject to the Saudi punishment.
The Israelis are searching for people to displace to Palestine and to consolidate the foundations of the Jewish national homeland. We believe that restricting the Palestinians in order to defend their rights, either in Palestine or in surrounding areas, is a burden on our shoulders we must get rid of. However, to be fair to Saudi Arabia, we must say that anyone who signs the Oslo Accords and recognises Israel does not want a right of return or any other rights, regardless of what they claim in the media.
This article first appeared in Arabic in Arabi21 on 27 September
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.