Saudis tell Palestinians to take deal Trump is offering with Israel
Saudi Arabia’s all-powerful crown prince has opened up a new front in his attempts to change the Middle East by intervening in Palestinian politics and demanding backing for President Trump’s vision for peace with Israel.This looks like a big deal. It will force the Palestinians to be realistic in their objectives or lose much of the financial support that sustains them. They have made themselves into a beggar culture with little to no industry which means they rely on gifts from others to survive. I do not think Iran can afford to fund them at their current level and it looks like the move against Hezballah may be tied to the Palestinian deal too. Things are afoot that few thought possible and they could dramatically change the Middle East for the better.
Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, was summoned to Riyadh last week for a meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Details were overshadowed by the purge ordered by the prince of rival royals, ministers and businessmen on corruption allegations and the apparently Saudi-orchestrated resignation of Saad Hariri, the Lebanese prime minister.
However, the meeting coincided with preparations, led by Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and Middle East point man, for a new effort to forge some sort of peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians.
Reports in Israel say the prince told Mr Abbas to accept whatever proposals were put forward if and when they were announced by Mr Trump, or to resign.
Mr Kushner made an unannounced visit to Riyadh two weeks ago and is said to have stayed up late into the night talking to the prince about regional and internal Saudi issues.
The prince has identified himself closely with the Trump administration, in co-ordination with Mohammed bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi who in effect rules the United Arab Emirates, a long-time Washington ally. The two have taken on Qatar and, more recently, the growing role of Hezbollah in Lebanon, in the name of fighting terrorism, a key Trump talking point for the Middle East. They have won warm words from Mr Trump, who strongly backed Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s purge of more than 200 royals and officials ten days ago.