Abbas and Saudi crown prince meet, agree to establish economic committee

PA president thanks kingdom for 'continued support of Palestinian people'; documents show Riyadh gave Ramallah $132.8 million between January and August

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meeting in Riyadh on February 12, 2019. (Credit: Wafa)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met in Riyadh on Thursday and agreed to establish a joint Saudi-Palestinian economic committee, the official PA news site Wafa reported.

The meeting took place a day after Abbas held discussions with Saudi King Salman in the Gulf kingdom’s capital.

“The president updated the Saudi crown prince on the latest political developments and the situation in the occupied Palestinian land, especially with regard to Israeli violations at the expense of our people, land and holy sites,” the Wafa report said.

The last publicly known meeting between Abbas and Prince Mohammed took place in February when the former visited Riyadh.

Abbas and Mohammed also agreed to establish a joint Saudi-Palestinian business council, the Wafa report said.

Asked what the role of the joint Saudi-Palestinian economic committee and business council would be, a PA government spokesman referred questions to the Abbas’s office.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, Abbas’s spokesman, did not immediately respond to phone calls.

The Ramallah-based Palestinian leadership has recently said that it would like to increase trade and business cooperation between the Palestinians and Arab countries.

The Palestinian Authority presidential headquarters (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons/PalestinianLiberator/File)

Abbas also expressed his appreciation to Mohammed for Saudi Arabia’s “continued support of the Palestinian people and its just cause in all areas,” the Wafa report said.

PA Finance Ministry records show that Saudi Arabia contributed NIS 469.4 million ($132.8 million) to the PA between January and August 2019.

According to the ministry records, the next-highest Arab donor to the PA between January and August 2019 was Qatar, which delivered NIS 117 million ($33.1 million) to Ramallah’s coffers.

Abbas and Mohammed were joined by a number of senior Palestinian officials including top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and PA General Intelligence Services chief Majed Faraj.

The PA president’s meetings with the Gulf kingdom’s leaders occurred after the Saudi and Palestinian national soccer teams competed against each other for the first time ever in the West Bank on Tuesday.

Earlier this week, Abdullah Fara, the director of the Palestinian national team between 2008 and 2014, said the Saudi team had hitherto opposed traveling to the West Bank to avoid perceptions of normalization with Israel.

“Saudi Arabia did not want to pass through an Israeli-controlled border crossing to enter Palestine because it feared it would be seen as normalizing with Israel,” he told The Times of Israel on Tuesday in a phone call.

The soccer match ended in a 0-0 draw.

Abbas departed Saudi Arabia following his meeting with Mohammed.

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