Palestinian officials are voicing major concern following a recent meeting between President Mahmoud Abbas and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, during which the prince set out a shockingly bad set of terms for a new peace proposal being pushed, supposedly with the support of the U.S. government.
According to the Palestinians this proposal, which U.S. and Saudi officials have since disavowed, Israel would keep effectively everything, including full border control, all settlements, and permanent rule over all of Jerusalem. The Palestinians would be given “limited” sovereignty over a few small, non-contiguous parts of the West Bank, but would have to disavow the right of return for all Palestinian refugees around the world even for that.
Such a plan would certainly never be accepted by the Palestinians, but Abbas was reportedly told that this didn’t matter, and the suggestion is that the Saudis believe they can get the rest of the Arab world on board with this.
There are reasons to doubt this beyond just the public denials though, as President Trump has expressed interest in an “ultimate deal” for Israel and Palestine, and even making such a proposal would surely kill the chances of anything like that emerging during his time in office.
The Saudis, however, have been interested in cozying up to Israel for the sake of picking a fight with Iran, and throwing the Palestinians under the bus in the process might not matter that much to them at this point.
With the hypothetical alternate plan still not public, it’s not clear that the reports can be totally dismissed out of hand, even if trying to implement them is almost certain to go nowhere.
Top photo | Donald Trump and Saudi Defense Minister and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman arrive for lunch in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, March 14, 2017. (AP/Evan Vcci)