Friday, September 15, 2023

Officials: Saudis assured Palestinians they won’t be abandoned in normalization talks

Saudi leaders assured a delegation visiting from Ramallah last week that Riyadh “will not abandon” the Palestinian cause as it engages in negotiations with the United States about a potential normalization agreement with Israel, a US and an Arab official told The Times of Israel on Wednesday.

The message was passed along in multiple meetings between the Palestinian Authority delegation and senior Saudi officials, including Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan, the US and the Arab official said.

The PA delegation, led by Palestine Liberation Organization executive committee secretary-general Hussein al-Sheikh, PA General Intelligence chief Majed Faraj and PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s diplomatic adviser Majdi al-Khalidi, discussed a series of measures it would like to see advanced in the context of a normalization agreement between Israel and the PA.

Last month, three officials told The Times of Israel that the PA is seeking “irreversible” steps from Israel, Saudi Arabia and the US, such as US backing for recognition of Palestinian statehood at the United Nations, the US reopening its consulate in Jerusalem that historically served Palestinians, the scrapping of congressional legislation characterizing the PA as a terror organization, the Israeli transfer of West Bank territory to Palestinian control, and the razing of illegal outposts in the West Bank.

These and other measures were presented in last week’s meetings, during which Saudi officials briefed the Palestinian delegation on the status of the talks with the Biden administration, which to date have largely focused on the US-Saudi bilateral relationship, the US and the Arab official said. READ MORE