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Saudi Envoy’s Visit to West Bank Highlights Commitment to Palestinian Cause Amidst Normalization Talks

During a rare visit to the occupied West Bank, a Saudi envoy affirmed that the Palestinian cause would be a central consideration in any normalization agreement that Saudi Arabia might enter into with Israel. This visit, led by Nayef al-Sudairi, marks Saudi Arabia’s first delegation to the West Bank in three decades.

The visit comes amid U.S. efforts to encourage Middle East allies, including Israel and Saudi Arabia, to normalize diplomatic relations, following similar agreements involving the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Morocco.

Palestinian

The Palestinians have expressed concerns about these agreements, viewing them as a betrayal of their quest for statehood. However, Sudairi aimed to reassure the Palestinians that Riyadh supports their cause. He stated that the Palestinian issue is a fundamental pillar and emphasized the significance of the Arab initiative proposed by Saudi Arabia in 2002. This initiative called for Arab-Israeli relations in exchange for Israel’s withdrawal from the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza, and the Golan Heights, along with a just resolution for the Palestinians.

Despite these diplomatic efforts, Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas expressed reservations about Arab countries building ties with Israel and emphasized the importance of Palestinian national rights. The visit by the Saudi delegation, which crossed overland from Jordan, marked a significant diplomatic development, as it was the first from Saudi Arabia to the West Bank since the 1993 Oslo Accords.

There have been discussions between Israel and Saudi Arabia about potential normalization, with a focus on security guarantees for Saudi Arabia and assistance with a civilian nuclear program. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman indicated that the kingdom was getting closer to a deal with Israel but reiterated the importance of the Palestinian cause to Riyadh.

Complex Path to Peace

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also expressed optimism about potential peace with Saudi Arabia, describing it as a historic opportunity to increase the circle of peace in the Middle East. However, the Israeli government’s expansion of settlements in the West Bank and ongoing violence in the region present significant challenges to achieving a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The situation in the Middle East remains complex, with multiple diplomatic efforts and regional dynamics at play.

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