Saudi military official: What if Arab states recognized Israel in 1948?

Saudi navy commodore surmises that numerous reverberating political events would not have occurred throughout the Middle East in the ensuing years after 1948.

David Ben Gurion at the center as the state of Israel is declared May 14 1948 (photo credit: SCHERSCHEL FRANK/ GPO)
David Ben Gurion at the center as the state of Israel is declared May 14 1948
(photo credit: SCHERSCHEL FRANK/ GPO)
A prominent commodore (ret.) of the Royal Saudi Navy, Abdulateef Al-Mulhim, speculated on what if the Arab states had recognized Israel following its declaration of independence in May 1948, in which he surmises that numerous reverberating political events would not have occurred throughout the Middle East in the ensuing years. The op-ed was published in Arab News, an English-language newspaper based in Saudi Arabia.
Acknowledging the context of the current regional lack of interest in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in part due to several crises facing Arab states in the region, Al-Mulhim argues that “since 1948, if an Arab politician wanted to be a hero, he had an easy way of doing it. He just needed to shout as loud as he could about his intention to destroy Israel, without mobilizing a single soldier.”
He further details that important regional political events, including the overthrow of King Farouk of Egypt in 1952 by the Free Officers movement, led by Gamel Abdel Nassar, a pan-Arab nationalist and ardent foe of Israel, the subsequent Suez War in 1956, and the Six Day War in 1967 (incidentally, expanding Israeli territorial control beyond the 1947 partition plan), would have not occurred. The UN resolution that followed (242), and the 1970 War of Attrition, also, would not have occurred in this speculative scenario.
Israel’s growing strategic ties with the United States after 1967,  Al-Mulhim notes, may have not occurred given the pre-1967 Israeli reliance on French and British weapons, and Washington’s reluctance to alienate Arab states in the region in which they were dependent on for oil.
Al-Mulhim deduces that the post-1948 Palestinian question was also responsible for the collapse of “stable” regional Arab monarchies, arguing that “Palestinian misery  was also used to topple another stable monarchy, this time in Iraq, and replace it with a bloody dictatorship. Iraq is rich in minerals, water reserves, fertile land and archeological sites. The military, led by Abdul Karim Qassim, killed King Faisal II and his family.”
The Saudi commodore also contends that the rise of Saddam Huessin, and the ruin he brought his country, in addition to other military coups in Syria (1963), Libya (1968) North Yemen (1962), which led to the North Yemen Civil War (a proxy conflict between Egypt and Saudi Arabia), and Sudan (1969), similarly, would have never happened. The rationale for his argument is derived from the claim that all the coup d’etat leaders “used Palestinian misery as an excuse,” in the context of Pan-Arabism.
In the case of Iran (a non-Arab country), Al-Mulhim argues that they also “used Palestine to divert its people from internal unrest.” He added that  “[he] remembers Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini declaring that he would liberate Jerusalem via Baghdad, and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad making bellicose statements about Israel, though not even a firecracker was fired from Iran toward Israel.”
Al-Mulhim concludes his argument by claiming that “the Palestinians are on their own; each Arab country is busy with its own crisis – from Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Sudan, Yemen, Syria, Jordan, Somalia, Algeria, Lebanon and the Gulf states.”
Perhaps the most important aspect, with foreign policy implications, is Al-Mulhim’s call that “for now, the Arab countries have put the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on hold.”


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