Saudi King Salman rejects US-led peace plan
In a surprising move, Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz addressed in a letter to US President Donald Trump his rejection of the proposed peace plan for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. As such, King Salman informed President Trump that Saudi Arabia cannot support the ‘Deal of the Century’ if there is no mention of a settlement on the status of East Jerusalem as a Palestinian capital and the right of return of refugees. This statement comes amidst speculations suggesting that Saudi Arabia would support the US-proposed peace plan as Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), seeks to normalize Arab relations with Israel.
Additionally, in a series of telephone conversations, the Saudi King reassured the President of the Palestinian Authority (PA) that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia hasn’t abandoned the Palestinian cause and expressed his support to the Palestinian position on the peace plan. In this sense, the Saudi government has been ordered to transfer $80 million to the PA in order to alleviate financial pressures created by US cuts to aid. Therefore, the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and transfer its embassy to the city seems to have initiated a change in the Saudi stance in regards to the US-led peace initiative.
Already, on July 15th, at the 29th Arab League Summit named the “Quds [Jerusalem] Summit”, King Salman emphasized the importance of establishing East Jerusalem as a capital to a Palestinian state and pledged a donation of $200 million to support programmes of the Islamic endowment of Jerusalem and UNRWA. As such, this presents a return to previous positions stated in the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002 while diverging from efforts made by MbS to press Mahmoud Abbas to accept a US-sponsored peace deal. Therefore, concerns about the status of Jerusalem and the question of Palestinian refugees are resurfacing amongst the Arab leadership.