Saudi Arabia has reportedly withdrawn the citizenship of a journalist who publicly advocates the normalization of ties with Israel.
Abdul Hameed Al-Ghabin confirmed the news on Twitter, saying he remains unsure of the reasons behind the move. He claims the decision was issued by the Ministry of Interior, yet he was not officially informed of it. "I respect the decision regardless of its rationale. There is nothing we can do but listen and abide," he wrote.
Al-Ghabin has regularly called for building relationships with Israel, published articles in Israeli publications, and even spoken highly of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
According to the biography found on his website, Al-Ghabin is a writer and political analyst who has written for a number of prominent Arab media outlets, including Al-Jazeera, Okaz, and Al-Riyadh newspapers. He is known for his pro-Israel views, which he often shares in his writings and on his social media platforms. It is no surprise that Al-Ghabin is highly praised by Israeli groups and his pro-Israel videos are shared by official Israeli social media accounts.
"Israel is a peaceful state and it only seeks peace," he said in a recent video, in which he reiterated his encouragement of the cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Israel as well as the establishment of political, economic, and military ties between the two entities.
Despite the decision to withdraw his citizenship, Al-Ghabin continues to express support for the Saudi leadership. In a tweet shared on Wednesday, the journalist posted a photo including Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. "This great leadership represents justice and security," he wrote.
In a blatant offense to the Palestinian identity and right to self-determination, Al-Ghabin believes Palestinians who refuse to live under Israeli rule should be deported to Jordan, while those living in other countries should be naturalized. "After nearly 70 years of resistance and the loss of dozens of opportunities, the Palestinian issue must be eliminated," he once said on Saudi Arabian television.
In November, he posted a tweet praising Netanyahu and addressing him with respect and support. "You deserve to be honored with the greatest of leaders," he wrote.
His pro-Israel stance is widely believed to have triggered the withdrawal of his Saudi citizenship.
According to Article 13 of the Saudi Arabian Citizenship System, the Saudi citizenship may be withdrawn in the following cases:
a. If the Saudi citizen obtained another citizenship and violated Article 11 of this system.
b. If the Saudi citizen worked at the Armed Forces of a foreign government without obtaining the permission of the Saudi government.
c. If the Saudi citizen worked for the benefit of a foreign government during its wartime with the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
d. If the Saudi citizen accepted working for a foreign government or international organization and remained working for them despite the Saudi government's order for him to quit.
The kingdom has maintained for years that normalizing relations with Israel depends on an Israeli withdrawal from Arab lands captured during the 1967 Middle East war. The Saudi government has repeatedly called for the recognition of a Palestinian state built on the lands that Israel captured in the 1967 war. That sovereign state would compose of the West Bank, Gaza, along with East Jerusalem as its capital.
However, in the recent past, increased tensions between Riyadh and Tehran have fueled speculation that shared interests may push Saudi Arabia and Israel to work together against a common Iranian threat.
In April 2018, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said Israelis were entitled to live peacefully on their own land.
"There are a lot of interests we share with Israel and if there is peace, there would be a lot of interest between Israel and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries", Prince Mohammed told The Atlantic in an interview.