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Palestinians hope Saudis will hear concerns on Israel deal, Minister says

August 3, 2023 at 3:34 pm

Palestinian Foreign Affairs Minister, Riyad al-Maliki in Ramallah, West Bank on 13 March, 2023 [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]

The Palestinian Authority is hoping to engage with Saudi Arabia to discuss their concerns over a potential agreement normalising relations with Israel, Palestinian Foreign Minister, Riyad Al-Maliki, said on Thursday, Reuters reports.

US President Joe Biden said, last week, a rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Israel “may be under way” following months of efforts by US officials to broker an agreement between the two long-standing adversaries.

Officials from all three countries have said any agreement would be some way off, with complex issues remaining to be resolved, including the tense situation in the Occupied West Bank and a potential development of civilian nuclear power by Saudi Arabia.

But the speculation has caused concern among Palestinians that any agreement would further weaken support for their cause in the wider Arab world and undermine hopes of an independent Palestinian State.

READ: Saudi FM: Saudi-Israel normalisation without two-state solution has limited benefits

“What we have read from the news items (is) that Saudi has put different conditions regarding normalisation,” Al-Maliki told a news conference in Ramallah. “One of these conditions is really the end of the Israeli occupation and the materialisation of the State of Palestine.”

“If that’s really the case, then that’s really very important,” he said. “I hope that the Saudis will stick to that position and not to yield to any kind pressure, intimidation coming from the Biden administration or any other power.”

He said Saudi Arabia had shown an interest in reviving an Arab-led peace process.

“But, of course, we would like very much to listen to the Saudis, to coordinate with the Saudis,” he said. The Saudis “could also hear from us about the steps that they should really undertake as necessary steps in order for the issue of Palestine to be resolved.”

Saudi Arabia, Islam’s birthplace, has long championed the Palestinian cause and shunned official contacts with Israel, but it has quietly accepted the so-called Abraham Accords between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

Al-Maliki said the Palestinian leadership had been “disappointed” by the Biden administration, which he said had failed to live up to its promises to reverse the decision by the Trump administration to break with previous US policy and recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

“What does that tell you? It tells you that their priority is not us.”

READ: Why are Israel and Saudi Arabia heading for normalisation, and what might stop it?