Saudi King Salman (left) welcomes Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at Riyadh’s King Khalid International Airport in February 2015. (Thaer Ghanaim/PPO via Getty Images)

Saudi King Reassures PA Prez Abbas: We’re On Your Side

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman publicly reassured Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas that Riyadh will not endorse any American peace plan that fails to take into account Ramallah’s claim to eastern Jerusalem and the future status of some five million Palestinian refugees whose aim is to return en masse to Israel. The declaration apparently puts to rest speculation that the Sunni Muslim country is willing to make significant compromises on Israeli-Palestinian “final status” issues in order to secure an elusive deal and establish open relations with Israel with a view to countering Iran’s regional expansionism. Rumors have been swirling for months that the Saudis are working in tandem with the Trump administration to formulate a comprehensive peace proposal that deviates from past examples by adopting positions more in line with those of Israel. In this respect, according to numerous reports the White House’s prospective plan only offers the Palestinians various remote suburbs of eastern Jerusalem as the capital of a future state and does not support the so-called “right of return” for Palestinian refugees. The matter may ultimately be moot given that Abbas reiterated over the weekend his refusal to engage in any process led by the U.S. administration. The PA leader imposed a boycott on American officials in the wake of President Donald Trump’s recognition in December of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Abbas’ refusal to play ball is viewed as the primary reason for which the 18 months-in-the-making American proposal has yet to be unveiled.

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