Saudi Arabia has reportedly reassured the Palestinian Authority and Arab states that it would oppose any peace plan put forward by US President Donald Trump’s administration that does not accept the Palestinian stance on the status of Jerusalem and the resettlement of millions of descendants of refugees.
“We will not abandon you,” King Salman promised Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during a recent meeting, Reuters reported Sunday.
“We accept what you accept and we reject what you reject,” the Saudi king added, the Palestinian ambassador to Riyadh Basem Al-Agha told the news agency.
The report said that the naming of this year’s Arab League conference “The Jerusalem Summit” and the announcement of a $200 million aid package for the Palestinians were understood as messages that issues such as Jerusalem and the “right of return” for refugees and their descendants were “back on the table.”
Saudi Arabia’s 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in April stoked fear in the Arab world that the country was aligning with Israel and the US, saying in a magazine interview that Israelis as well as Palestinians “have the right to have their own land.”
King Salman, however, later reaffirmed Riyadh’s “steadfast” support for the Palestinian cause.
Top Israeli and Saudi Arabian officials reportedly held a series of secret meetings in Cairo in March ahead of Trump’s expected unveiling of his long-awaited peace plan.
Mohammed bin Salman last month hosted Trump’s special envoy Jason Greenblatt and adviser Jared Kushner to discuss the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.
Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians have been stalled since 2014.
The Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state; Israel considers the entire city to be its eternal and indivisible capital.
Israel has also long insisted that a “right of return” for Palestinian refugees and their descendants is a nonstarter in peace negotiations. The UN categorizes as refugees not just those Palestinians who were displaced or expelled from their homes in 1947 and 1948, but also all of their descendants who have since been living in neighboring countries, often without being granted citizenship or civil rights.
As a consequence, accepting the “right of return” would mean millions of Palestinians being allowed to enter Israel, ending Israel’s majority-Jewish status.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.