Palestine to re-open embassy in Kuwait 22 years after it was shut down

September 21, 2012

The Palestinian embassy to Kuwait will be re-opened next month, 22 years after it was shut down.

Rami Tahboob was appointed ambassador and he will present his credentials to the Kuwaiti government in October, Riyadh Al Maliki, the Palestinian foreign minister told news agency Wafa.

The embassy was closed in 1990 in the wake of a deep Kuwaiti-Palestinian rift following the invasion of Kuwait by Iraqi leader Saddam Hussain.

Iraqi military forces invaded Kuwait on August 2, 1990, prompting the United Nations Security Council to pass Resolution 660 condemning the invasion.

One week later, the Council passed Resolutions 661 and 662 that authorised the use of military force to liberate Kuwait.

The Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and Palestinians in general supported Saddam as a hero who publicly defied the Middle East policy of the United States and threatened to wipe out Israel, in the mould of Egypt’s president Jamal Abdul Nasser.

A deceptive announcement by Saddam that he would withdraw from Kuwait if Israel pulled out of the occupied Arab territories was cheered by Palestinians who openly supported him against the coalition forces.

Kuwaitis felt betrayed by the Palestinian pro-Saddam attitudes and following its liberation in February 1991, Kuwait cut off ties with the PLO, froze its financial backing and expelled a large number of Palestinians from the country.

The wound in bilateral relations started to heal only 14 years later after Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian president, apologised in December 2004 for the Palestinian position in 1990 towards the Iraqi invasion.

“We apologise to Kuwait and the Kuwaiti people for what we did,” Mahmoud Abbas told reporters after arriving in the state on the first visit to Kuwait by a senior Palestinian since relations were suspended.

Relations have since evolved and Kuwait has repeatedly announced multi-million dollar donations to Palestinians and contributed millions to projects supporting Palestinian development.

In August, Khalid Al Jarallah, Kuwait’s foreign ministry undersecretary, said that Kuwait and the Palestinian National Authority reached an agreement on re-opening the embassy.

“We are waiting for the allocation of a plot of land for the embassy and for the nomination by the Palestinians of the head of the diplomatic mission to achieve the official details related to the embassy,” he said, quoted by Arabic daily Al Watan.

Kuwaitis in their online comments had a wide spectrum of views, ranging from re-opening the 1990 wounds and a total rejection of the embassy move to a forward-looking view and a warm welcome to the Palestinians.

“The state should really consider the feelings of the Kuwaitis and their fallen heroes,” an angry comment by Al Mutairi said.

However, a commentator, under the pseudonym of Urbanite, posted that “we have overcome the terrible pains of the past with Iraq, the country that invaded us, so we should also look ahead with the Palestinians.”



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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