Jeddah summit proves Arabs haven't dumped the Palestinians - PA officials

PA officials said that they were especially delighted to see the Arab leaders reaffirm their support for the Palestinian people and the two-state solution.

 Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and US President Joe Biden react after a statement, in Bethlehem in the West Bank July 15, 2022. (photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN)
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and US President Joe Biden react after a statement, in Bethlehem in the West Bank July 15, 2022.
(photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN)

The Palestinian Authority leadership has expressed satisfaction with Saturday’s Jeddah summit, which was attended by leaders of all Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, as well as Egypt, Jordan and Iraq and US President Joe Biden.

PA officials said that they were especially delighted to see the Arab leaders reaffirm their support for the Palestinian people and the two-state solution, thus refuting speculation that the Arab countries have turned their backs on the Palestinians.

Reports that Saudi Arabia was not considering (at least at this stage) establishing diplomatic ties with Israel were also received with a sigh of relief in Ramallah.

A communique released after the summit, which was hosted by Saudi Arabia, said that the [Gulf] leaders stressed the need to reach a just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the basis of the two-state solution.

They also voiced the importance of supporting the Palestinian economy and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).

 US President Joe Biden and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attend an Arab summit, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, July 16, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/EVELYN HOCKSTEIN) US President Joe Biden and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attend an Arab summit, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, July 16, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/EVELYN HOCKSTEIN)

Opening Saudi airspace

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan told reporters after the summit that Riyadh’s decision to open its airspace to all air carriers had nothing to do with establishing diplomatic ties with Israel and was not a precursor to further steps.

Palestinian officials had privately expressed concern over reports in the Israeli and US media that suggested that Saudi Arabia and Israel were close to normalizing their relations. The officials, however, refrained from publicly voicing criticism of the Saudi leadership.

According to Palestinian sources, relations between Ramallah and Riyadh have been tense in recent months, especially in light of the increased talk about rapprochement between the kingdom and Israel.

On Sunday, PA President Mahmoud Abbas thanked Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdel Aziz and his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, for their “commitment to and solidarity with the Palestinian people and the Palestinian issue.”

During his opening remarks at the summit, the crown prince said that stability and prosperity in the Middle East require speeding up efforts to reach a fair and comprehensive solution based on international legitimacy and the 2002 Arab Peace initiative, echoing similar statements made by Abbas during his meeting with Biden in Bethlehem last Friday.

In separate messages to the monarch and the crown prince, Abbas thanked them for reaffirming their support for the national rights of the Palestinians and their “just cause” and for “stressing the need to end the Israeli occupation and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital,” according to a statement released by the PA’s official news agency Wafa.

In his message to the Saudi leaders, Abbas expressed appreciation for the “important results and objectives of the summit,” saying they “enhance stability, security and the Arab economy and preserve the leading Saudi role regionally and internationally.”

Palestinians view the messages in the context of Abbas’s ongoing attempts to improve the PA’s ties with Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries.

The PA’s No 2, Hussein al-Sheikh, expressed satisfaction with the speeches delivered by the Arab leaders at the summit, as well as the communique issued at the end of the gathering.

“We appreciate the firm and historical Arab position on the issue of Palestine and its lively presence at the Jeddah Summit."

Palestinian Authority No. 2 Hussein al-Sheikh

“We appreciate the firm and historic Arab position on the issue of Palestine and its lively presence at the Jeddah Summit, and the affirmation by all the Arab kings and leaders on the necessity of applying international legitimacy in ending the Israeli occupation and establishing an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital,” said al-Sheikh, who was recently appointed by Abbas to the top job of Secretary-General of the PLO.

Happy for reiterated support

A Palestinian official told The Jerusalem Post that the Palestinians were “more than happy” to see the Arab monarchs and heads of state reiterate their support for the Palestinians and the two-state solution.

“[Egyptian] President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi emphasized in his speech that the Palestinian issue is the Arab’s number one case,” the official noted. “This is a blow to all those who have been claiming that the Arabs have abandoned the Palestinians and that the Palestinian issue was no longer at the top of the Arab world’s list of priorities.”

Likewise, Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, said in a speech at the Jeddah summit that the Palestinian issue “occupies a central position among the peoples of our Arab and Islamic worlds and the forces of peace worldwide.

Another Palestinian official praised Jordan’s King Abdullah, who called in his speech for including the PA in “regional partnerships.”

Abdullah went on to reaffirm the importance of reaching a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the basis of the two-state solution, warning that there can be neither security, stability, nor prosperity in the region without a solution guaranteeing the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the 1967 lines.

“The Arab leaders have again emphasized the significance of the Palestinian cause,” the official told the Post.

“The Jeddah summit has put the Palestinian cause back at the top of the Arab world’s list of priorities. It has also shown that the talk about the establishment of an Arab-Israeli security alliance is not true. We hope that the nice words we heard from the Arab leaders will be translated into deeds.”