The Saudi monarchs made great political efforts to support the Palestinian cause, and this has always led to diplomatic clashes with successive US administrations since Roosevelt.
The reason behind every major political crisis in the relations between the two countries has always been America's absolute bias towards Israel, which the Saudis see as “unacceptable” from a superpower that feign neutrality. The clash has always been ongoing, and many have reconsidered the Palestinian cause as their way in which they could harm the international presence of the kingdom on the world scene and aggravate its relations with the West.
As a researcher in the field of international relations, I think that if we substitute the Palestinian issue from the agenda of Saudi-American relations, we would find that all international positions of both countries are identical. Saudi Arabia could have long ago abandoned the Palestinian cause to achieve regional supremacy in the Middle East, and could have found great international support on all issues of concern to the kingdom. But this is not easy for the major power in the region, and the Islamic world.
Since the very first meetings between the founder of Saudi Arabia, Abdul Aziz al-Saud and the leaders of the Western World, until now, the Saudi position has been clear about the undeniable rights of the Palestinians. During the recent Islamic summit in Istanbul, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced a previous meeting between him and King Salman: Nothing is accepted except for a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.
This was not the end of it. The Palestinian cause had a major psychological reflection on all the kings of Saudi Arabia.
After the June defeat, King Faisal never smiled. He had real conflicts with the US government so much that Kissinger considered visiting Riyadh to be one of the most difficult moments of his life.
Fahd introduced a project that was ahead of his time. Fahd's project at the Summit Conference at Fez should have acted as a guarantor of a viable Palestinian entity, unless it was for the Arabic swaggering that aborted the project and gave rise to a flood of media attacks everywhere. Such personal attack was really hurtful to the king. He felt very depressed and left his residence only a little. He was astonished by that attack on someone who tried to solve a case and support people’s rights, while they thought they were neither occupier nor their country was under occupation!
When King Abdullah was crown prince, he decided to introduce a new political initiative to support the peace process in the region. Saudi Arabia proposed the initiative and it turned into an Arab initiative after it was accepted by the Arab League. Abdullah was one of the leaders who gave their best trying to make a major breakthrough in the crisis. Had almost left the George W. Bush family farm, angry at the US president's unwillingness to make any effort to resolve the crisis. Later, he promised to do so.
That was not until Abdullah was real desperate, and he decided to send a strongly worded letter saying: It is either to solve the Palestinian issue or it is going to be the end of the Saudi-US relations. A few months later, the September 11th attacks took place, as planned by Khalid Sheikh, who had been living in Qatar for long. The relations between the two countries have entered a new phase that aimed at pushing the kingdom towards ceding its main role.
Abdullah did not despair. He was appalled by the severe divisiveness between the Palestinian leaderships and by the fact that those, supposedly, comrades in arms are preoccupied with fighting each other. Fatah and Hamas were going through deep divergences. The Mecca conference came after the defection among Palestinians. Negotiations were not easy. “When dialogues got tense, we used to open the window, so they see the Kaaba and things get solved." King Abdullah gladly said after signing the agreement. They were already in Mecca, and looking at the Kaaba made them swear to reach a settlement.
This summit was supposed to be the end of disagreements and the beginning of the unity era. The Kingdom was generous, financially, to them all. But it was real strange for the hosts to hear the talk of Palestinian leaders, saying that this agreement will not be, and it shall last no more than those few hours of a farewell trip wishes in Jeddah airport. The Hamas movement was the main reason for deepening divergences among the Palestinians and make them get bitterly divided.
What is worse was that, Hamas handed over to the US administration some documents that claimed to prove a Saudi support for terrorism. The Saudis knew about these documents, and after that the relations witnessed a silent crisis, and King Abdullah refused to receive the Palestinian leaders for several months.
With every scene, the Palestinian leaders seemed inept to fight for the larger cause. A senior Arab official had once told me how was Arafat, when they met, was busy solving a case in India. The Gulf people, from how Abu Ammar’s point of view, did not give the cause what it deserved.
When Gaddafi asked him about his opinion regarding the Gulf countries, he took out his pocket and said: I got nothing from them!
The biggest obstacle that hinders any progress in the Palestinian cause is that the current leadership there is unable to resolve anything or cope with the current situations. It is now the time to give a chance to a new generation that has its own ideas, its vision for a solution regarding the region and the whole world. This is the possible solution, although I know that there are many who do not want this cause to be solved, as that would eliminate their basic role and their existence.
Therefore, it is necessary to escape “even to India”, like the late Abu Ammar used to say.
Saudi Arabia is a major power in the region and cannot close its eyes quietly and leave the region to its own destiny. It is not one of the silent states that can go unnoticed, nor it has no obligation to play any role. Leaders are mistaken if they can ask for their role in making history. It is totally the opposite. History is the one who gives you for a role and an action that you must achieve. I see him giving this role to the kingdom, not the Palestinian leaders. As they have always proved that the cause is way much bigger than them.