Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman has told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that he has to back Donald Trump’s Israeli-Palestinian peace deal or resign.
According to Israeli sources Abbas was offered an ultimatum after he was summoned to Riyadh last week for a meeting with Bin Salman days after Us Presidential advisor Jared Kushner made an unannounced visit to the Saudi capital to meet the young crown prince. The two are reported to have thrashed out a plan in which Abbas seems to have had no say.
Riyadh had offered to normalise relations with Israel in 2002 on the condition that it agreed to the two-state formula, which more and more Israeli’s, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have rejected.
It’s still not clear what peace deal has been offered to Abbas, but Palestinians will be concerned by Bin Salman’s readiness to rally behind the US President who is described by close associates as the most pro-Israeli president in years. Trump is said to be drafting a deal put together by his son-in-law, Kushner, who is a strong advocate of Israel and his support for the country, say critics, is odd even by American standards. Kushner has given money to Israeli settlements and his family are close friends of Benjamin Netanyahu.
The Israeli sources also mentioned that Abbas was instructed to stop any further rapprochement with Hamas; an ultimatum that could jeopardise the reconciliation process between the two main Palestinian rivals. If Israeli sources are to be believed than the ultimatum given by Bin Salman seems to be identical to the one made by Netanyahu who is also strongly opposed to the Palestinian unity government.
Though Abbas has rejected the claims made by the Israeli Channel 10, details of the meeting seems to be in line with the Saudi, UAE, Israeli and US vision for the region agreed prior to Trump’s inauguration.
It was widely reported that the US gave its backing for the unpredictable young prince while endorsing a regional plan that included unreserved support for Gulf monarchies; revision of the Iran nuclear deal; and a new Israel-Palestine peace plan.
The Saudis appear to be fully behind this deal whose blueprint has been drawn up by senior members of Trump’s exceptionally pro-Israeli administration.
Since his election, Trump has gone on to describe Saudi Arabia as a “magnificent country” while taking the unprecedented step of visiting the Gulf state in his first official visit, having condemned the rulers during his election campaign. Trump also struck a multibillion dollar deal with the Saudi royals in May.
Trump’s new fondness for the Saudi’s saw him backing the Saudi-UAE media onslaught on Qatar and, last month, he announced he was decertifying the Iran nuclear accord. Last week, when Saudi Arabia arrested scores of princes and businessmen in an “anti-corruption” purge, the president also tweeted his support.
Palestinians no doubt had hoped that a Saudi crown Prince would be a trusted ally who could at the least present their cause with sympathy. They will be concerned over Bin Salman’s ultimatum, which appears to have been coordinated by people that support Netanyahu’s vision for the region which is nothing more than a “state-minus” for the Palestinians.