Speaking in an interview with FNA, Dr. al-Shehabi blasted UAE’s recognition of Israel, and said, “Nobody accepts that Palestine should be seized by occupiers… Undermining the unity of the Muslims [by the UAE] is not something a real Muslim would accept.”
Saeed al-Shehabi is a London-based Bahraini political activist, journalist and political commentator. Dr. al-Shahabi edited the London-based Pan-Arabic weekly al-Aalam from 1983 to 1999. He writes regularly for Al-Quds and The Muslim News.
Below is the full text of the interview:
Q: Majority of Muslim nations were fast to react negatively to the UAE recognition of Israel. What made them react swiftly?
A: The Muslim nations have considered the Israeli occupation of Palestine as a crime. There will therefore be no reconciliation with the occupiers. They should leave Palestine. The Palestinians must have the possession of their own land. This has been the position of the Muslim world since the occupation of Palestine. So, to break or violate that stand, which strengthens and confirms the occupation, by any rulers of Muslim world is a crime. Nobody accepts that Palestine should be seized to occupiers. Palestine is for the Palestinian Muslims, Jews and Christians, as Palestine is significant for all religions, for the religious heritage of the land. Everyone who is an original native of Palestine has the right to stay, but no other forces should be allowed to take the control of the lands. Undermining the unity of the Muslims is not something a real Muslim would accept.
Q: Where does the UAE-Israeli step to normalize relations trace its roots back?
A: This is not secret that Saudi, Emirati and Bahraini regimes have been communicating with Israelis. Especially after the Arab revolutions in 2011. Those regimes were afraid, feeling that they were exposed to their own people and that the only way to keep themselves in power is to seek the help of Mossad, the intelligence service of Israel. The security support was, in their own assessment, crucial for keeping their positions as dictators. So, I think now one of the motives for them to normalize relations with Israel is to get more security assistance to suppress their own people. We know they have been doing that for a long time, as we know in 1998 Israel’s Maariv newspaper reported Mossad had been giving assistance to Bahrain to counter the uprising at that time. We also know that since then, many Emirati delegations went to Israel to participate in sport events, etc. Even recently when the Emirati plane landed in Tel Aviv airport to, as they claimed, deliver medical support to Palestinians during corona crisis, the Palestinians rejected that aid saying it was used as a justification to linkup with Israel. We know that Bahrain also communicated with Israel in 2005, when they invited Yossi Sarid, Israel's Minister for the Environment, to attend the UN meeting on environment in Bahrain. Also a Bahraini delegation including the Foreign Minister went to Israel some four years ago to allegedly bring back some Bahrainis who had been sent to Israel by the regime. Of course Saudis have had similar contacts with Israel.
Q: How do you find the fact that the UAE-Israeli ties were first announced by US President Donald Trump?
A: It was an order. Trump issues orders to the regimes of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Emirates, etc. The problem is that when the governments are weak with their own people, they feel exposed to threats and difficulties. So, the only way they think to remain in their position, instead of reconciliation with their own people, is to rely on foreigners like America. So, it was an order. President Trump wanted these people to rush before his term in office ends, he wants to show the world that he has managed to make normalizations between some Arab countries and Israel. They (UAE and Israel) had no alternative, as they had to obey the orders coming from Washington. Unfortunately, these are the rulers who are weak inside, and rely on the foreigners for their own security, instead of listening to their own people who are against any compromise on the Palestinian cause.