Saudi Prince: ‘Palestinian leadership always bets on the losing side’

Prince Bandar bin Sultan paints a broad picture of historic Palestinian leadership failure in dealing with Israel.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

One of Saudi Arabia’s top diplomats has laid bare a history of Arab, and especially Palestinian, leadership failures throughout the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

In a watershed interview with the Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television station that aired Monday, Prince Bandar bin Sultan described the history of the conflict from the Saudi point of view, detailing almost a century rife with dissent, botched decisions and inflated egos that have left the Palestinian Arabs with little hope.

In the 40-minute interview, Prince Bandar went into extensive detail regarding the different Arab leaders and their repeated decisions to avoid compromise and effectively make the situation worse, leading up to the recent decisions by Saudi Arabia’s neighbors – the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain – to abandon traditional Arab strategy and ink their own separate peace deals with Israel.

Bandar is intimately familiar with the peace process, having served as Saudi ambassador to the U.S. from 1983 to 2005. He then directed the Saudi National Intelligence Agency from 2012 to 2014 and headed his country’s National Security Council from 2005 to 2015.

The Prince said the recent insults by the Palestinian leadership prompted him to hold the interview, emphasizing that it was “truly painful” to hear Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and top official Saeb Erekat say the recent peace treaties signed with Israel were a “stab in the back” of the Palestinians.

“This low level of discourse is not what we expect from officials who seek to gain global support for their cause. Their transgression against the Gulf states’ leadership with this reprehensible discourse is entirely unacceptable,” he said.

The Prince then fired a broadside, revealing what appears to be simmering Arab frustration with the Palestinian leadership.

“It is not surprising to see how quickly these leaders are to use terms like “treason,” “betrayal,” and “back stabbing,” because these are their ways in dealing with each other,” Bandar said.

His wide-ranging historical interview skewered both Arab state leaders and Palestinian leaders for their consistent failures over the past century, contrasting that with the success of Israel.

“The Palestinian cause is a just cause but its advocates are failures, and the Israeli cause is unjust but its advocates have proven to be successful. That sums up the events of the last 70 or 75 years. There is also something that successive Palestinian leaderships historically share in common; they always bet on the losing side, and that comes at a price,” Bandar said.

Bandar painted a broad picture of Arab leadership failure over the past century, ranging from Palestinian leaders cozying up to Hitler before World War II to Egyptian President Nasser’s “historical disaster” of trying to defeat Israel in 1967.

In one of the more shocking revelations from the interview, Bandar said Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat himself admitted to making strategic rejections of peace that would have given the Palestinians an independent state decades ago.

“The initiative of UN Resolution 242 was presented and rejected by the Palestinians. The Camp David agreement was rejected by the Palestinians and by the Arabs. It became the mistake that played a major role in deepening the Palestinian tragedy,” Bander said. “Israel was working on increasing its influence, while the Arabs were busy with each other. The Palestinians and their leaders led these disputes among the Arabs.”

After Israel and the Palestinians signed the Oslo Accords in 1993, Bandar said, he asked Arafat what he thought of the autonomy provisions in the Camp David Treaty.

Bandar said Arafat told him that “Camp David’s autonomy provisions were 10 times better than the Oslo Accord.”

Bandar asked Arafat why he didn’t agree to the Camp David Treaty.

“I wanted to, but [Syrian dictator] Hafez al-Assad threatened to kill me and to drive a wedge among the Palestinians, turning them against me,” Arafat said.

Bandar concluded the interview saying that Arafat “could have been one martyr and given his life to save millions of Palestinians, but it was as God willed it.”