Saudi Arabia leads condemnation of West Bank land grab by Netanyahu

Saudi Arabia summoned emergency OIC session of foreign ministers after Netanyahu’s pledge to annex Jordan valley if reelected – (Photo Courtesy: OIC)
Updated 12 September 2019

Saudi Arabia leads condemnation of West Bank land grab by Netanyahu

  • Summons emergency session of OIC on Sunday over Israeli PM’s annex pledge
  • Royal Court comes to defense of ‘inalienable and protected rights of the Palestinian people’

JERUSALEM: Saudi Arabia led a chorus of international condemnation on Wednesday after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatened to annex the Jordan Valley.

The Kingdom said there was “no peace without the return of the occupied Palestinian territories,” and called for an emergency meeting of Arab foreign ministers.

“The Arab and Islamic worlds’ preoccupation with many local and regional crises will not affect the status of the Palestinian cause,” the Saudi Royal Court said.

“Israel’s attempts to impose a fait-accompli policy will not obliterate the inalienable and protected rights of the Palestinian people.”

Netanyahu’s pledge, widely viewed as an attempt to attract hard-line right-wing votes in next week’s Israeli elections, was also condemned by the Gulf Cooperation Council, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the UN, the EU, Jordan, Turkey and Palestinian leaders in the West Bank.

In a televised speech, Netanyahu said he would annex the valley and land north of the Dead Sea, about a third of the occupied West Bank, and also annex other Israeli settlements in the West Bank. This would effectively end the possibility of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“Any Israeli decision to impose its laws, jurisdictions and administration in the occupied West Bank is without any international legal effect,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

“Such a prospect would be devastating to the potential of reviving negotiations, regional peace and the very essence of a two-state solution.”

Nabil Shaath, senior adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, told Arab News it would be a mistake to dismiss Netanyahu’s plan as an electioneering gimmick.

“While this is not new to Netanyahu, it is important to know that he is not different from his opponents,” Shaath said. “They want the land without the people.”

A “unified effort and effective strategy” were required to combat this, Shaath said. “We need the Arab world, Muslim countries, Europe and others to stand with us to stop this effort at destroying the two-state solution.”

Palestinians in the Jordan Valley said on Wednesday they had been rooted to the land for generations, and would never give it up.

“We tell Netanyahu, and whoever follows him, you will not break the Palestinians’ will, you will never break our will, never, never,” said Hassan Al-Abedi, 55, a farmer in the village of Jiftlik. “It is our parents’ and grandparents’ land. We will hold on to it no matter what it costs.”

Ismael Hassan, 75, from the village of Zbeidat, said: “This is not Netanyahu’s land to give.  This land is for Palestine, for the Palestinians.”


Saudi team meets Pakistani health officials to expedite work on new hospital 

Updated 50 min 59 sec ago

Saudi team meets Pakistani health officials to expedite work on new hospital 

  •  200-bed first ever tertiary care hospital being jointly built by Pakistan and Saudi Arabia in rural Islamabad
  • Saudi Arabia building hospital as “gift to people of Pakistan” through Saudi Fund for Development,” Saudi ambassador says 

ISLAMABAD: A Saudi delegation met with top officials of Pakistan’s health ministry late last week to discuss ways to expedite construction of the first-ever tertiary care hospital in rural Islamabad, the King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud Hospital, a senior official
 at Pakistan’s health ministry said on Tuesday.

Construction is underway for King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Hospital in Islamabad on Feb. 26, 2020. (AN photo)

The Saudi delegation was led by Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) Regional Manager Dr. Saud Al Shammari and the Pakistani side by Director General Health, Malik Muhammad Safi.

Workers are seen at the construction site of King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Hospital in Islamabad on Feb. 26, 2020. (AN photo)

“The total cost of the [hospital] building is Rs2,500 million, out of which Rs500 million was the cost of the land, which was provided by the Pakistani government while the remaining Rs2,000 million would be spent by the Saudi side,” Safi told Arab News in an interview
 in Islamabad on Tuesday.

He said Saudi officials had suspended the contractor hired by them earlier as they were not satisfied with progress on the project.

Workers are seen at the construction site of King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Hospital in Islamabad on Feb. 26, 2020. (AN photo)

“During the meeting last week, the Saudi delegation informed us that they [Saudis] have voided the previous contractor and now are discussing hiring a new firm,” Safi said. “It will take another four months to complete the process of hiring through international bidding.”

After a new contractor is hired, it will take two years to complete the first phase of the 200-bed hospital, to which another 300 beds would be added in the future, Safi said.

“Pakistan has built a complete boundary wall and installed gates on the plot and possession has been given to Saudi officials,” he said. “Now they [Saudis] will take over control of further construction process. Their technical team is coordinating with our team to
 complete and expedite the work.”

Safi said the hospital would benefit over three million people from both urban and rural Islamabad. 

“Saudi Arabia is building a hospital in Islamabad as a gift to the people of Pakistan through the Saudi Fund for Development,” Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan, Nawaf bin Said Al-Malki, told Arab News in Islamabad. “There are many welfare projects in the pipeline for
 the Pakistani people and they will be executed by different Saudi agencies all over Pakistan.”