Hussein al-Sheikh, Secretary-General of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), has warmly welcomed the Saudi Arabian ambassador to Palestine, marking a significant development in the bilateral relations between the two nations. The ambassador, who also serves as the kingdom's envoy to Jordan, is expected to submit his official credentials to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the coming days. The Palestinian Foreign Ministry has hailed the ambassador's forthcoming visit to Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian Authority, as a historic step in strengthening bilateral ties.
US Pressure for Saudi-Israel Normalization
This diplomatic development comes amid reports of Saudi Arabia considering the establishment of formal diplomatic relations with Israel, reportedly under pressure from the United States. The Biden administration is said to have engaged in talks with Saudi officials in a bid to broker this landmark agreement. However, Saudi Arabia has thus far resisted these efforts, demonstrating a cautious approach towards any public actions that could be perceived as normalization with Israel.
The potential for a Saudi-Israel agreement is fraught with complexities, as Israel has not signified a willingness to make significant concessions to the Palestinians as part of any normalization deal with Saudi Arabia. Previously, Saudi Arabia had a Consulate General in al-Quds, but it was forced to close following Israel's occupation of the city in 1967. Furthermore, Israeli authorities have stated they will not permit a diplomatic base in al-Quds for the Saudi ambassador, as they claim the city as their own capital. This claim is recognized by the US, but not by other world countries.
Significance of the Saudi Ambassador's Visit
The first visit by a senior Saudi official to the Palestinian territories since Saudi Arabia announced its appointment of a non-resident Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Palestine and Consul General in Jerusalem marks a milestone in the relations between the two countries. The visit is expected to open more horizons for mutual cooperation in various fields.
This diplomatic appointment signifies the Kingdom's commitment to the Palestinian cause and the rights of the Palestinian people in a fully sovereign state. It is seen as an important step that will contribute to further strengthening the strong brotherly relations that bind the two countries and the two brotherly peoples.
Despite the positive sentiments surrounding the ambassador's appointment, Palestinians are concerned that any agreement between Saudi Arabia and Israel may weaken support for their cause in the wider Arab world and undermine their aspirations for an independent Palestinian state. However, the recent diplomatic appointment sends a message that Saudi Arabia remains committed to the Palestinians, even as it contemplates normalizing its ties with Israel.