Jerusalem (Caasimada Online) – Israel said it would not sanction any physical mission in Jerusalem for Saudi Arabia’s first envoy to the Palestinians.
Despite viewing the appointment as supportive of their quest for a state that counts part of Jerusalem as its capital, Israel remains firm.
In a conversation with Tel Aviv radio station 103 FM, Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen emphasized, “Will there be an official physically sitting in Jerusalem? This we will not allow.”
He hinted at the potential for dialogue with the Palestinian Authority, suggesting that Saudi Ambassador to Jordan, Nayef al-Sudairi, might act as a delegate.
This assertion followed after al-Sudairi broadened his ambassadorial purview to become a non-resident Palestinian envoy.
A statement from his embassy on social media further mentioned that the “consul-general in Jerusalem” was an added responsibility for al-Sudairi.
Riyadh’s overtones and Palestinian optimism
In the aftermath of Saudi Arabia’s decision, preceded by Washington’s announcement of particular headway in brokering formal ties between the kingdom and Israel, Eli Cohen commented, “The Saudis want to relay a message to the Palestinians that they have not forgotten them.”
However, Palestinians, sensing alienation due to intensified indirect dialogues, had earlier expressed hope for Riyadh to align with their concerns.
They exhibited a renewed sense of positivity post-al-Sudairi’s designation.
Clarifying the implications, Palestinian Ambassador to Riyadh, Bassam al-Agha, stated on the Voice of Palestine radio, “What does it also mean to say (he is) ‘consul-general in Jerusalem’? It means a continuation of the positions of Saudi Arabia.”
He deemed the appointment a direct “rejection” of the U.S. acknowledging Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017.
The core conflict: East Jerusalem’s status
The Palestinian ambition is clear: they yearn for a nation within territories that Israel occupied following the 1967 war, with East Jerusalem as the intended capital.
Regrettably, US-backed talks with Israel aiming to realize this aspiration came to a standstill over a decade ago.
Various impediments exist, such as Israel’s settlement endeavors in the occupied land and internal discord between the Western-allied Palestinian authority in the occupied West Bank and the Hamas regime in Gaza. A principal contention, however, remains Jerusalem.
Israel regards it as an undivided capital, a viewpoint not predominantly echoed internationally. Moreover, Palestinian diplomatic endeavors within the city face restrictions from Israeli officials.
Interestingly, al-Sudairi officially registered his credentials at the Palestinian mission in Amman, signaling that the Jordanian capital would continue to serve as his principal location.
The prevailing Israeli administration, leaning significantly to the right, has been dismissive about conceding significant concessions to the Palestinians, even considering a potential normalization accord with Saudi Arabia.