Saudi Crown Prince To U.S. Jewish Leaders: Palestinians Need To Make Peace Or ‘Shut Up’
Mohammed bin Salman’s comments come amid reports that Riyadh is pressuring the Palestinian leadership to accept President Donald Trump’s yet-to-be-revealed peace proposal
Israel’s Channel 10 reported that during a meeting last month in New York with American Jewish leaders, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman chastised the Palestinians for rejecting multiple opportunities to make peace with Israel. “For the past 40 years, the Palestinian leadership has missed opportunities again and again,” the future Saudi king was quoted as saying. “It’s about time that the Palestinians accept the offers and agree to come to the negotiating table or they should shut up and stop complaining.”
Bin Salman also is alleged to have told his “staggered” audience that the Palestinian issue no longer tops Riyadh’s agenda, as “there are much more urgent and more important issues to deal with such as Iran.” Nevertheless, the crown prince apparently qualified his statements by stressing that progress towards an Israeli-Palestinian agreement is a prerequisite for the establishment of open diplomatic relations between Arab nations and the Jewish state.
The Oslo Accords, forged under American mediation a quarter of a century ago by former Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and then-Palestinian leader Yassir Arafat, never fully materialized, albeit the Palestinians have since assumed full administrative and security control over most major cities in the West Bank and, following Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005, were similarly afforded the opportunity to build the foundations of a state in the enclave.
Instead, the diplomatic process has been largely overshadowed by cyclical violence, most notably the Palestinian uprising, or Intifada, in 2000 and three military conflicts over the past decade between the IDF and the Hamas terrorist group, which forcibly wrested control of Gaza just two years after the Jewish state uprooted its military and civilian presence from the territory. In between, current Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas rejected in 2008 the last comprehensive peace deal offered to him by past Israeli premier Ehud Olmert.
Nevertheless, previous U.S. president Barack Obama launched two failed peace initiatives during his tenure, whereas the Trump administration is today again seeking to jump-start negotiations; this, despite a boycott imposed on American officials by Abbas in the wake of the U.S.’ recognition in December of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
While most analysts believe the chances of success are minimal, there has been a significant change in the regional dynamics—as evidenced by bin Salman’s purported comments—which some suggest could lead to a breakthrough. Indeed, there has been a rapprochement between Sunni Muslim countries and the Jewish state based on the shared desire to curb Shiite Tehran’s potential nuclearization and expansionism, an effort that would be significantly boosted if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were finally to be resolved.
Where there is a will there is a way, goes the old adage, and it may be that this confluence of interests will induce external parties to apply pressure on the Palestinian leadership to make do with the White House’s year-in-the-making peace proposal. Even so, many members of Israel’s right-wing government are liable to use their sway over Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to derail any process that gets off the ground.
Accordingly, very few are overly optimistic, as The Media Line discovered while querying people on the streets of Jerusalem.