NEW DELHI: Prince Turki al-Faisal of Saudi Arabia referred to the “insurrection and civil disobedience” that “brought down the British Empire in India” during a recent speech on the current violence in the Middle East in which he condemned both Hamas and Israel for attacking civilians.
“All military occupied people have a right to resist the occupation, even militantly.
I do not support the military option in Palestine. I prefer civil insurrection and civil disobedience. This brought down the British Empire in India and the Soviets in Eastern Europe … I condemn actions by Hamas and by the government of Israel. In this conflict there are no heroes, only victims,” said Faisal, a former senior government official of Saudi Arabia who once headed the Kingdom’s intelligence unit.
The elder statesman made the remarks during his address at the Baker Institute in the US earlier this week.
“I categorically condemn Hamas’ targeting of civilians. Such targeting belies Hamas’ claims to an Islamic identity,” Faisal said, adding that Islam prohibits
the targeting of innocent civilians, children, women and elderly even in a state of war.
The attack by Hamas has given “the high moral ground to an Israeli government that is universally shunned”, the Saudi prince said, adding that it has also given this Israeli government “the excuse to ethnically cleanse Gaza of its citizens and bombing them to oblivion”.
Faisal further said the Hamas attack has also sabotaged Saudi Arabia’s attempt to move towards a peaceful resolution of the Israel-Palestine row.
An insight into Saudi Arabia’s position
The Saudi leader also attacked Western nations for saying that the Hamas attack was unprovoked.
“What more provocation is required to make it provoked than what Israel has done to the Palestinian people for three-quarters of a century,” he asked, adding that Israeli forces have been killings Palestinians in a targeted manner, jailing civilians and stealing Palestinian lands.
Prince Turki also condemned Western politicians for “shedding tears when Israelis are killed by Palestinians”, but refusing to “even express sorrow when Israelis kill Palestinians”.
Faisal’s frank speech is being widely acknowledged as the clearest indicator yet of the Saudi leadership’s thinking on the situation.
According to political experts, Saudi Arabia’s rulers do not view Hamas in good light. In fact, many of the governments in the region share the sentiment.
The rulers of Egypt, Jordan, UAE and Bahrain see Hamas and its revolutionary brand of so-called “political Islam” as a threat to their rule.
Saudi Arabia was well on its way to normalising ties with Israel when Hamas launched its attack on October 7.
Several analysts believe that Hamas’s deadly raid into Israel was partly prompted by a desire to derail normalisation that would have left Hamas and Iran sidelined in a new Middle East.