(May 28, 2020 / Israel Hayom) PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat said on Tuesday that Ramallah will “seek clarifications” regarding reports that many of the moderate Arab states will not challenge Israel’s plan to apply its sovereignty in the Jordan Valley and parts of Judea and Samaria.
The former chief Palestinian negotiator added that he was confident that the Arab world would not allow Israel to move forward with its sovereignty plan.
Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, said Erekat, has “spared no effort to salvage the [Israeli-Palestinian] peace process,” and “the next few weeks will determine whether the next decades will be ones of peace and coexistence or of violence and war.”
Arab sources told Israel Hayom on Tuesday that while Arab leaders were concerned that the unilateral annexation of areas in the West Bank the Palestinians seek for a future state, would see the region plunged into a violent conflict, behind the scenes, moderate Arab leaders are in no rush to prevent Israel from pursuing the territorial bid.
The rulers of Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf states have all warned Israel that a unilateral sovereignty move would foster hostilities that could destabilize the region.
Jordan’s King Abdullah even warned that the move would set Amman and Jerusalem on a collision course that may even jeopardize the peace treaty the two signed in 1994. He further warned the move could hasten the collapse of the Palestinian Authority.
Still, senior officials in the moderate Arab countries made it clear that, despite the pan-Arab stance against the annexation plan, behind the scenes the move is not being challenged as forcibly as the Palestinians might hope.
Over the past few months several Arab leaders have met with senior White House adviser Jared Kushner and U.S. Middle East envoy Avi Berkowitz, who are overseeing the implementation of the U.S. Middle East peace plan.
Sources privy to these meetings said that the Arab leaders have, in essence, given the two American officials the go-ahead for the joint U.S.-Israel committee tasked with mapping the areas included in the annexation plan to continue its work, despite publicly lambasting the U.S. plan.
A senior Jordanian official told Israel Hayom that “if Jordan suspends or cancels the peace agreement [with Israel], it will undermine its position [as custodian of] the holy Islamic sites in Jerusalem.”
Jordan would also rather have Israel securing the border than the Palestinians, said the official.
“The king also prefers to see Israeli troops near Jordan’s western border [the Jordan Valley] over Palestinian forces or a multinational peacekeeping mission. Jordan’s security forces have close ties with their Israeli counterparts and with all due respect to Palestinian interests, the king cares more about Jordanian interests. He wants to maintain the kingdom’s status in Jerusalem and his good relations with President Trump,” said the official.
The Jordanian official’s position is shared by senior security officials in Cairo, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi.
A senior diplomat considered a confidant of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman told Israel Hayom that Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates are coordinated in their unofficial position on Israel’s annexation plan.
“The official pan-Arab position opposes any move that allegedly infringes on Palestinian interests and the Palestinians’ right to an independent state,” he stressed. “However, the Palestinians need to understand that the entire world, especially the Arab states, has undergone great changes since the Khartoum conference, and recognizing Israel’s existence is a matter of fact,” he added, referring to the 1967 Arab League meeting in Sudan, where the pan-Arab group rule for a continued state of belligerency with Israel.
“With all due respect to the tens of thousands of Palestinians living in the Jordan Valley, Arab states such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Jordan will not jeopardize their relationship with the Trump administration for them,” said the diplomat.
The Saudi official continued: “We believe that Trump will go on to serve a second term. The Palestinians failed to make the most of the Obama administration, which was sympathetic to their cause, and dug in their heels. It is time for Abu Mazen [Abbas] and his advisers to wake up and realize that global and regional interests have changed. If they again miss an opportunity to establish an independent and sovereign state alongside Israel because of the annexation of the [Jordan] Valley and some of the settlements, they will be left with nothing.”
A senior Egyptian security official told Israel Hayom that moderate Arab rulers, led by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the Saudi crown prince, Jordan’s King Abdullah and Persian Gulf rulers, “See preventing Iran from achieving Shi’ite hegemony in the Middle East as more important than the Palestinian issue.
“The United States and Israel are very important [players] in the fight against Iran. No Arab leader will jeopardize his country’s own interest in curbing Iranian expansion for the Palestinians,” said the official.
This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.
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