Monday, April 30, 2018
Saudi Crown Prince: Palestinians should negotiate peace or ‘shut up’
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman said the Palestinian leadership needs to accept the peace plans proposed by the US or stop complaining and that the Arab world has lost interest in the so-called Palestinian issue.
In a closed-door meeting with heads of Jewish organizations in New York in March, Bin Salman harshly criticized Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinians’ diplomatic conduct over the past 40 years, according to a report by American news site Axious. The report cited an Israeli foreign ministry cable sent by a diplomat from the Israeli consulate in New York as well three other sources – Israeli and American – who were briefed about the meeting.
According to the report, the Saudi Crown Prince told the Jewish leaders that “in the last several decades, the Palestinian leadership has missed one opportunity after the other and rejected all peace proposals. It is about time the Palestinians take the proposals and agree to come to the negotiations table or shut up and stop complaining.”
He also noted that the Palestinian issue was not a top priority for the Saudi government or Saudi public opinion, saying that Saudi Arabia “has much more urgent and important issues to deal with,” such as confronting Iran’s belligerent expansion in the Middle East.
While leveling harsh criticism against the Palestinians, Ben Salman conceded that in order for Saudi Arabia and other Arab states to normalize relations with Israel, at least some progress on the Israeli-Palestinian diplomatic process would have to be made. He did not demand a final status agreement.
High-ranking Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have often spoken in general terms regarding the budding backdoor diplomatic relations between Israel and Sunni Arab states, mainly Saudi Arabia.
Axious quoted a source who, briefed on the meeting, said the attendees were stunned when they heard the Saudi prince’s comments on the Palestinian issue. “People literally fell off their chairs,” the source said.
This news comes amid reports that the Trump administration has finished drafting a peace plan and is discussing how and when to launch it.
The Palestinians have been boycotting Washington since Trump’s recognitions of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December.