High-level Saudi delegation due to arrive in Ramallah

September 26, 2023 by TPS
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A Saudi delegation will arrive in Ramallah on Tuesday to meet with Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas amid an ongoing U.S.-led diplomatic effort to normalize relations between Riyadh and Israel.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaking at the 77th UN General Assembly, Sept. 23, 2022. Credit: YouTube.

The delegation will be headed by Saudi Ambassador to Jordan Nayef al-Sudairi, Riyadh’s first-ever non-resident envoy to the P.A. and consul general to Jerusalem.

Al-Sudairi, a cousin of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and considered close to the royal family, presented his credentials to Abbas’s diplomatic adviser Majdi al-Khalidi during a meeting in Amman, Jordan, in August.

Because Saudi Arabia does not have a diplomatic mission in Jerusalem, the appointment did not require approval from Israel, which considers the city its undivided capital.

The Saudis have proposed resuming financial assistance to Ramallah, in what has been construed as a sign the kingdom is paving the way to establishing diplomatic relations with the Jewish state. Saudi Arabia contributed billions to Palestinian causes until cutting off funding in 2016 over P.A. corruption. Aid dropped from $174 million a year in 2019 to zero in 2021.

Palestinian leaders are debating whether to accept a prospective Saudi-Israel deal or to adopt the antagonistic stand that the P.A. took in 2020 when the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed the Abraham Accords with Israel, describing it as “a stab in the back of the Palestinian cause and the Palestinian people.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly said that bringing Saudi Arabia into the Abraham Accords would constitute a “quantum leap.”

In his address on Friday at the opening session of the UN General Assembly, Netanyahu said that peace with the Sunni Muslim nation would have far-reaching implications, including encouraging other Arab nations to normalize relations with Israel.

He called the Abraham Accords “a pivot of history,” and said the whole world is reaping their benefits. “All these are tremendous blessings,” said the premier.

TPS

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