Palestinian Authority vows not to embarrass Saudi Arabia in talks with Israel

Mahmoud Abbas says he wants to leverage peace talks between Israel and the Saudis to further his own goals but realizes normalization will take place ‘no matter what.’

By World Israel News Staff

Following reports of imminent peace talks between Israel and Saudi Arabia, the Palestinian Authority has reportedly promised the White Houses that it will avoid criticizing or publicly rejecting a future deal with Riyadh.

Media Line reported that the Biden administration is “working closely” with Saudi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to establish parameters for negotiations with their Israeli counterparts. The report further states that Biden has offered the Palestinians a “comprehensive financial and social aid package” that would “transform” its economy.

Palestinians demand ‘reversal’ of Trump’s policies

The Media Line report clarifies that the PA’s criticism of former President Trump’s policies vis-à-vis the Abraham Accords of 2020 which established diplomatic ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates along with Bahrain has not gone unheeded by the Biden White House.

The accords, orchestrated by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, were seen as largely ignoring the Palestinians in favor of establishing a wide-ranging coalition with Israel with the hopes of ushering a new era of economic cooperation in the Middle East. Biden, influenced by Obama’s approach toward Israel as well as progressive Democrats in the White House for whom the Palestinian issue lies at the heart of any future peace deal, has renewed aid to the Palestinian Authority which had been significantly cut by the Trump administration and returned to the Oslo vision of a two-state soluti0n.

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The Saudis, who orchestrated the Arab Initiative of 2002 at the behest of Crown Prince Abdullah, have also vowed to maintain Palestinian interests in any future peace deal with Israel.

While Trump’s Abraham Accords changed the trajectory in the Arab-Israeli conflict, Saudi Arabia still sees itself as beholden to the Beirut-based Initiative of 2002, which committed the Arab states to establishing a comprehensive peace deal with Israel in return for the IDF’s full withdrawal from Gaza, the Golan Heights, Judea and Samaria, and a Palestinian capital in eastern Jerusalem.

As far as Palestinian demands, the Media Line quotes Dr. Jonathan Rynhold, head of the Political Studies Department at Bar-Ilan University, as saying that the Abraham Accords have set a precedent which doesn’t leave the Palestinians much of a choice.

“I don’t think that the Palestinians have much leverage with the Saudis, because the most important thing to the Saudis is what the Americans can do for them in terms of security,” he points out. “That’s not to say that the Palestinians have no influence, but I suspect they would have more influence in Washington particularly in Congress than in Riyadh,” adds Rynhold.

Will concessions to the Palestinians spell the end for Israel’s government?

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is likely to push for a deal with the Saudis at the cost of making concessions to the Palestinian Authority in the form of a “final agreement.”

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Rynhold suggests that the Palestinians should “weaken” the right-wing Israeli government by making “clear” demands that Israel will have to agree to if wants peace with the Saudis “badly enough.”

On the other hand, he says that the current coalition will not allow Netanyahu a free hand, and might break up over extensive concessions to the PA.

Netanyahu’s ‘final balancing act?’

Negotiations with the Saudis will involve at least four factors – the Iranian nuclear threat and the Islamic Republic’s recent attempts at settling its conflict with Riyadh, a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, US interests in the region, and Netanyahu’s ability to make concessions while maintaining a narrow coalition government supported by right-wing parties that want no part of a deal with the Palestinians.

While Netanyahu may be the one man to pull off a move involving so many movable parts, there is a long, uncertain road ahead of him. Abbas and the Palestinian Authority will play a major role in any outcome. Their relative silence would go a long way toward making a deal come to fruition.