The Trump declaration recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and relocating the U.S. embassy there could be part of a grander plan to help Israel wrest control of Jerusalem, as well as the West Bank, from the Palestinians, leaving the Arabs with their own state of Gaza only.
Last week a senior Palestinian official gave insights about the linkage between the announcement and Trump’s broader plans for the region. This official was briefed on the details of the surprise meeting last month between Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority (and head of the Palestine Liberation Organization, the PLO), and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. Abbas was summoned to Riyadh on November 6 by the Crown Prince as part of the latter’s high-powered effort to engineer a joint Arab-U.S. offensive against Iran and its allies.
According to the source, Mohammed bin Salman is playing a high-stakes gamble to cement both his leadership and his corollary offensive. On this score, the crown prince announced that the Arab Peace Initiative (API) is effectively dead. The crown prince declared that it’s time for Plan B, a Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip. When Mahmood Abbas asked about the place of the West Bank and East Jerusalem in this scheme, the crown Prince replied, “We can continue to negotiate about this.” He is also said to have offered the Palestinian leader $10 billion to sweeten the bitter pill he had just prescribed. Abbas is in dilemma he can neither say no nor yes.
Mohammed bin Salman had late-night deliberations with U.S. envoys Jared Kushner (the president’s son-in-law and majordomo and longstanding friend of Netanyahu) and Jason Greenblatt (the Trump Organization’s former lawyer and current Mideast peace envoy) in Riyadh only days before his meeting with Mahmood Abbas. This U.S.-Saudi understanding has driven Saudi Arab to abandon its Arab Peace Initiative.
The New York Times also confirmed through Palestinian, Arab, and European sources that Mohammed bin Salman offered “vastly increased financial support for the Palestinians, and even dangled the possibility of a direct payment to Mr. Abbas, which they said he refused.” As reported by ‘The American Conservative’ sources said the offer Abbas could only refuse involved a Palestinian state with “noncontiguous parts of the West Bank and only limited sovereignty over their own territory (Gaza).” The vast majority of the Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which are considered illegal by most of the world, would remain.
The source noted that Mohammed Bin Salman himself wrote a formal letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outlining the unprecedented Saudi pledge to participate—along with Egypt, Israel, and the United States—in upholding the security terms of the historic peace treaty between Israel and Egypt.