x

Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 December 2018

Kuwait rejects Israeli occupation, considers opening embassy in Palestine

Kuwait looks to strengthen its diplomatic presence in Palestine through new embassy

Kuwait's Foreign Minister Sabah Al Khalid Al Sabah speaks on the phone after a news conference following the annual summit of Gulf Cooperation Council, in Kuwait City, Kuwait, December 5, 2017. Hamad I Mohammed / Reuters
Kuwait's Foreign Minister Sabah Al Khalid Al Sabah speaks on the phone after a news conference following the annual summit of Gulf Cooperation Council, in Kuwait City, Kuwait, December 5, 2017. Hamad I Mohammed / Reuters

Discussions are underway for the opening of a Kuwaiti embassy in the occupied Palestinian territory, though the exact location has yet to be revealed.

The plan "is currently under discussion" said Kuwait's minister of foreign affairs Sheikh Sabah Al Khaled on Monday. Sheikh Sabah, who also serves as deputy prime minister, said the move is set to increase Kuwaiti support against Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian land.

"Kuwait is one of the most committed countries to Arab and international resolutions, rejecting the Israeli occupation of the occupied Arab territories," the foreign minister said.

The statement came in response to official parliamentary questioning by MP Osama Al Shaheen, local media reported. Kuwaiti parliamentarians are given the constitutional right to question members of government on a number of topics.

Although several Arab countries maintain diplomatic representatives in Palestinian territories, the establishment of a fully-fledged embassy would be the first of its kind.

The minister did not indicate whether Jerusalem was being considered as the city for the proposed embassy.

_________________

Read more:

Kuwait speaker calls Knesset members 'occupiers and murderers of children'

Abbas urges Arabs to visit Jerusalem

Israel: No peace talks with Palestinian government reliant on Hamas

_________________

The notion of a Palestinian capital has become even more of a sensitive topic following president Donald Trump’s announcement in which he recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a move that was denounced by the UN and 128 countries.

Palestinian-Kuwaiti relations have a long history of co-operation. Former Palestinian Liberation Organisation leader Yasser Arafat was a long-time resident in Kuwait, where he formed the Fatah political organisation.

However, relations between the two broke down in 1990 when Mr Arafat aligned with Saddam Hussein during Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.The move prompted a mass exodus of the 200,000-strong Palestinian diaspora who feared prosecution by the Kuwaiti authorities.

Palestine and Kuwait have since worked to repair relations - the number of Palestinians living in Kuwait today is 80,000.

Palestine reopened its embassy in Kuwait in 2013, 22 years after it was shut down.

A new Kuwaiti law passed in 2017 by parliament to hire Palestinian teachers has been regarded as a positive step towards improving Kuwait's state education.

The country's foreign policy towards Palestine shifted drastically last year, with more politicians indicating intentions of strengthening ties.

Last October, Kuwait’s speaker of parliament, Mazouq Al Ghanim, launched a tirade against Israel’s delegation. The politician called the Israeli parliament representatives “occupiers and murderers of children” after using the forum for international parliament to discuss the imprisonment of Palestinian politicians.

Kuwait’s chief lawmaker has since pushed to repair Kuwaiti relations with Palestine, most recently speaking at the Al Azhar World Conference in Support of Jerusalem held in Cairo earlier in January.

Mr Al Ghanim was seated next to Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas during the opening ceremony of the conference and appeared receptive to the president’s call for Arab countries to encourage visits to Jerusalem.