High-ranking Kuwaiti Official Visits Palestine for 1st Time since 1967

Kuwait’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Sabah Khalid al-Ahmad al-Sabah is scheduled to visit Ramallah Sunday, marking the first visit by a high-profile Kuwaiti official to Palestine since 1967.

Al-Sabah is expected to arrive in Ramallah before noon before proceeding to Jerusalem to visit the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

In the afternoon, he is expected to return to Ramallah to meet with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas.

Al-Sabah is scheduled to sign a number of cooperation agreements between the Kuwaiti and the Palestinian foreign ministries, including the formation of a higher joint committee from which political and economic subcommittees will emerge.

Abbas and al-Sabah will also discuss potential future Kuwaiti financial support to Palestine, including work opportunities for Palestinians in Kuwait.

Undersecretary at the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Tayseer Jaradat said that the visit reflects improved ties between Kuwait and Palestine following the troubles of the early 1990s, when Kuwait expelled hundreds of thousands of Palestinian workers in retribution for the Palestinian leadership’s support of Iraq in the Persian Gulf War.

The visit follows the inauguration of a Palestinian embassy in Kuwait in April 2013, 22 years after the office of the Palestine Liberation Organization in Kuwait was shut.

Kuwait had previously been a major host country for Palestinians since the Nakba of 1948 when Israel displaced more than 750,000 Palestinians from their homes in what became Israel and denied their right of return.

By 1989, the Palestinian community in Kuwait was estimated at around 400,000, compared to the native Kuwaiti population of roughly 550,000.

Thousands fled when Iraq invaded Kuwait the next year, however, and hundreds of thousands more were deported by the Kuwaiti government following the flight of Iraqi troops due to the Palestinian leadership’s pro-Iraqi stance.

In 2004 during a visit to the Gulf state, Abbas issued an official apology to Kuwait for the leadership’s stance 14 years before, after Kuwait said it had forgiven the Palestinians.

(Ma’an – www.maannews.net)

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