Dhaka, Bangladesh
A shocking agreement

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A shocking agreement

EVEN before The New York Times published the inside story about the Arab leaders’ talks on the Jerusalem issue, the world had noted with disappointment most Arab governments’ muted response to the American decision to formally recognise the holy city as Israel’s capital. The NYT tapes reveal a tacit but shocking agreement among Arab leaders to accept America’s policy while adopting a stance that condemned it. Publicly, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi denounced Washington’s renunciation of its half-century old policy on Jerusalem, with the Egyptian leader making a phone call to President Donald Trump to register his opposition to an announcement that was music to Israeli ears. However, as the tapes reveal, phone calls from the Egyptian intelligence chief asked hosts of several TV talk shows not to condemn the American decision and instead persuade the viewers to accept it. In contrast, for public consumption, Egyptian religious leaders close to the government refused to meet American Vice President Mike Pence, and it was Egypt that moved the Security Council resolution which Washington vetoed. The Saudi attitude was no less slimy, for as revealed by Arab and European sources, a few days before the Trump announcement, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman tried to persuade Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas to accept a watered-down version of a Palestinian state without east Jerusalem as its capital. The fact is that intra-Arab and other disputes shape the policy of some Arab capitals, which see Iran, Qatar, the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, rather than Israel, as the principal threats. Egypt feels a third intifada could revive Hamas, which along with the Muslim Brotherhood is anathema to Cairo, while Riyadh like Tel Aviv considers Tehran as the foe. The Muslim world noted with regret that neither King Salman nor the crown prince bothered to attend the OIC’s Istanbul summit. No wonder it is left to non-Arab Muslim countries like Turkey and Iran to articulate the Palestinian point of view. —Dawn

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