Saudi US-Embassy tries to bury Hashemite Kingdom of Palestine solution

June 19, 2023 by David Singer
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Saudi Embassy Spokesperson in Washington – Fahad Nazer – has tried to bury the Hashemite Kingdom of Palestine solution (Saudi Solution) – first published in the Saudi Government-controlled Al-Arabiya News on 8 June 2022 and then subsequently amended.

The Saudi Solution’s author is Ali Shihabi – a confidant of Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS).

Shihabi himself spent two years in Washington – having founded the Arabia Foundation in March 2017 – only to abruptly close it on 30 July 2019 in the following dramatic circumstances:

“At 10 a.m. that day, Shihabi seated himself beneath his foundation’s banners for a panel discussion hosted alongside the Atlantic Council. He was typically combative throughout the event, and when it ended at 12 p.m. he stood, swiftly shook hands, and exited the stage.

Soon after, a message pinged on the Arabia Foundation’s staff WhatsApp group. Everyone was to be back at the L Street office within the hour, Shihabi wrote. The foundation was closing.”

Nazer had been appointed Spokesperson for the Saudi Embassy on 23 January 2019.

Saudi Arabia’s current US Ambassador Princess Reema bint Bandar had been appointed on 23 February 2019 – which was immediately welcomed by Shihabi.

Nazer’s attempt to bury the Saudi Solution came during a wide-ranging interview Nazer gave Katie Jensen on 11 June 2023 – during which she asked:

“Has there been any change in the Kingdom’s position towards normalization with Israel in recent months?”

Nazer answered Jensen’s question with this response:

“Saudi Arabia’s position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been clear and has been consistent for many years. In fact, it was the late King Abdullah, who, way back in 2002, introduced what is now known as the Arab Peace Initiative at the Arab League Summit in Beirut in that year. And the proposal, the initiative, does offer Israel normalization with all members of the Arab states in return for a just and comprehensive peace with the Palestinians based on a two-state solution. That offer really still remains on the table. And we’re certainly hopeful that the Israelis and Palestinians do go back to the negotiating table and resolve the core dispute once and for all…”

Nazer was being deceptive and misleading:

  • The Saudi Solution trashes the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative which calls for the creation of an independent Palestinian Arab state between Israel and Jordan for the first time in history (two-state solution) – replacing it with a plan to merge Jordan, Gaza and part of the West Bank into one territorial entity to be called the “Hashemite Kingdom of Palestine” – to be governed by Jordan’s ruling Hashemite dynasty – with its capital in Amman – not Jerusalem.
  • Analyst David Weinberg refutes Nazer’s claim:

“Every serious interlocutor I know who has spent significant time in Riyadh in recent months will tell you that Saudi leaders no longer insist on Palestinian statehood as a condition for movement towards Israel.”

  • New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman concluded last December that the Biden-supported two-state solution – unachieved after 20 years of intense diplomatic activity – was “in hospice”.

The Saudi Solution is a potential game-changer.

Abandoning the late King Abdullah’s 2002 initiative – coupled with MBS not uttering one word rejecting or disapproving the Saudi Solution –– represents a major change in Saudi Arabia’s position towards normalisation with Israel.

Why did Nazer ignore mentioning these recent highly-significant developments?

The possible answer: Implementing the Saudi Solution could be one of the top agenda items in the current secret negotiations between Israel and Saudi Arabia. Keeping everyone in the dark – including President Biden – gives those negotiations the best chance of success.

The Saudi Embassy’s perceived burial of the Saudi Solution is premature.

David Singer is a Sydney lawyer and a foundation member of the International Analysts Network

Author’s note: The cartoon — commissioned exclusively for this article — is by Yaakov Kirschen aka “Dry Bones”- one of Israel’s foremost political and social commentators — whose cartoons have graced the columns of Israeli and international media publications for decades

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