During Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ impromptu meeting in Riyadh last month, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman presented the Palestinian leader with a peace plan that clearly benefits Israel, according to a report published by the New York Times. Saudi Arabia has denied the report.
Abbas Photo Credit: Reuters/Channel 2 News
A day before US President Donald Trump’s expected announcement about the American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city, the New York Times released the details of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ recent meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. The report, which was released late Sunday, states that bin Salman presented a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to Abbas during the meeting. According to Palestinian and European officials, Abbas left Saudi Arabia disappointed.
The report added that after last month’s impromptu meeting, Abbas claimed that no Palestinian leader could ever accept such a solution because it clearly benefited Israel more than the Palestinian side. The meeting occurred less than two weeks after Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner flew to Riyadh to discuss the conflict with senior Saudi officials.
Under the plan, the Palestinians would receive a state of their own. However, this state would consist of non-contiguous parts in the West Bank and Gaza over which the Palestinians would not have complete sovereignty. In addition, the Palestinians would not get East Jerusalem as their capital and there would not be a right of return for Palestinian refugees. The White House has confirmed that these are the main points of the plan but stressed that the proposal has not been finalized.
The Saudis have denied that they support the plan, claiming that they are committed to the main ideas of the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative. “The Kingdom remains committed to a settlement based on the Arab peace initiative of 2002, including East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders,” Saudi Ambassador to the United States Prince Khalid bin Salman stated. “To suggest otherwise is false.”
Western officials are claiming that Saudi Arabia’s main motive for ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is its desire to work with Israel to counter the Iranian threat in the Middle East. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s former National Security Adviser Yaacov Nagel concurred with this view during an interview with the Telegraph. According to the former senior Israeli official, Saudi Arabia is so interested in countering Iran that it is willing to abandon the Palestinians in exchange for diplomatic relations with Jerusalem. Nagel explained that Riyadh wants to begin cooperating with Israel so desperately that it “doesn’t care” what kind of deal is reached between Israel and the Palestinians.
“They just have to say there is an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, they don’t care, they don’t give a damn about what will be in the agreement,” Nagel said. “They need to say there is an agreement in order to go for next steps.”