Saudi Arabian attempts to derail Trump’s peace plans

Saudi Arabian intransigence may boomerang and put the sovereignty plans back on track. Opinion.

David Singer ,

Dry Bones: Saudi intransigence
Dry Bones: Saudi intransigence

It didn’t take long for the euphoria to dissipate after President Trump announced the United Arab Emirates (UAE) decision to establish diplomatic relations with Israel.

Trump’s assessment was decidedly upbeat:

“Now that the ice has been broken, I expect more Arab and Muslim countries will follow the United Arab Emirates’ lead”

Trump’s expectations were dashed within days.

Sudanese acting Foreign Minister Omar Qamar al-Din dismissed Haidar Badawi from his position as spokesman and head of the media division at the ministry after Badawi said Sudan was:

"looking forward to concluding a peace agreement with Israel… There is no reason to continue hostility between Sudan and Israel. "

Saudi Arabia’s Prince Turki al-Faisal - responding to President Trump’s confident prediction – made clear the price Saudi Arabia would exact from Israel for establishing diplomatic relations:

"Any Arab state that is considering following the UAE should demand in return a price, and it should be an expensive price. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has set a price for concluding peace between Israel and the Arabs - it is the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state with Jerusalem as capital, as provided for by the initiative of the late King Abdullah."

Abdullah’s 2002 Arab League Initiative offered Israel normalised ties in return for full Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights, Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), Gaza, East Jerusalem and resolution of the Palestinian refugee issue according to UN General Assembly Resolution 194.

Al-Faisal voiced understanding for the UAE's decision - noting the UAE had secured a key condition - a halt to Israel applying sovereignty in Judea and Samaria as designated in Trump’s Peace Plan.

Al-Faisal - a former ambassador to Washington and ex-intelligence chief - holds no government office now but remains influential as current chairman of the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies.

Al-Faisal’s comments endorsed those made by Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan a few days earlier when confirming Saudi Arabia remained committed to Abdullah’s 2002 Arab Peace Initiative.

“Saudi Arabia affirms its commitment to peace as a strategic option based on the Arab Peace Initiatives”

The 2002 Arab Peace Initiative is poles apart and irreconcilable with Trump’s 2020 Plan calling for Israeli sovereignty in 30% of Judea and Samaria and a Palestinian State in Gaza and possibly the remaining 70% of Judea and Samaria.

There is no prospect for ending the Arab-Jewish conflict based on the Arab Peace Initiative – as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made very clear.

The 100 years old Jewish-Arab conflict could be possibly ended if the Arab League gets behind Trump’s Plan and the Palestine Liberation Organization announced its readiness to negotiate with Israel on that Plan.

The Arab League however made its position clear in a statement issued by Foreign Ministers of its member states on 1 February 2020 that it:

“rejects the US-Israeli ‘deal of the century’ considering that it does not meet the minimum rights and aspirations of Palestinian people” whilst vowing “not to ... cooperate with the US administration to implement this plan.”

The PLO was equally as adamant as PLO chief Mahmoud Abbas exploded:

"After the nonsense that we heard today, we say a thousand noes to the 'Deal of The Century'"

Trump has seemingly been misled in believing Sudan and Saudi Arabia would quickly replicate the UAE-Israel deal.

Their failure to do so could soon see Trump giving Israel his permission to immediately restore sovereignty in that part of the biblical heartland of the Jewish People detailed in Trump’s plan.

Another opportunity to end the long-running conflict will have gone begging due to Arab intransigence.

Author’s note: The cartoon – commissioned exclusively for this article — is by Yaakov Kirschen aka “Dry Bones” – one of Israel’s foremost political and social commentators – whose cartoons have graced the columns of Israeli and international media publications for decades. His cartoons can be viewed at Drybonesblog

David Singer is an Australian lawyer who is active in Zionist community organizations in that country. He founded the "Jordan is Palestine" Committee in 1979.