An announcement that should be dramatic – was met with embossing silence in both Amman and Ramallah

Date: 16/08/2023 Time: 10:32

Pinhas Inbari μικρή 1 By Pinhas Inbari

One of the surprises after Saudi Arabia’s  announcement that it had appointed an ambassador to Palestine, based in Amman, who would also be the consul in Jerusalem – an announcement that should be dramatic – was met with embossing silence in both Amman and Ramallah.

Moreover, it was not Mahmoud Abbas who received the new ambassador’s credentials, but his political advisor, Majdi Khaldi, in a modest ceremony at the Palestinian embassy in the Jordanian capital.

What appears at first sight to be a step toward a Saudi-Jordanian-Palestinian tripartite agreement toward normalizing Saudi relations with Israel appears to be a Saudi threat of infiltration into Jordanian-Palestinian space, especially challenging Jordanian-Palestinian arrangements regarding the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Just before the end of the Palestine Radio news broadcast, they brought an interview by the Palestinian ambassador in Riyadh, and he focused on Jerusalem. He sounded like he was calming fears, saying Saudi Arabia was committed to serving the Palestinian cause in Jerusalem. He didn’t say a word about settlements, etc.

A few years ago, when I was enjoying Abu Kamal’s fine hummus in the Old City, a man who was introduced to me as a Waqf personnel entered the restaurant and we entered into a conversation, and he surprised me with the question of whether Israel would let Saudi Arabia into the mosque plaza. I didn’t know until then that there were any Saudi aspirations in this direction; Trump’s deal talked about changing Jordan’s special status in a pan-Arab-Muslim council, in which Saudi Arabia plays a leading role, and the appointment of a Saudi consul to Jerusalem is in this context more of a threat than an encouragement, because there will be an address for Israel to agree steps with Saudi Arabia in Jerusalem.

While no senior Jordanian or Palestinian official immediately went to Riyadh to promote the Saudi move, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi went to Qatar, and King Abdullah, together with Mahmoud Abbas, went to Sisi to hold a tripartite summit of what appeared to be a consolidation front against what they saw as a Saudi incursion into their space.

Is there still much that is hidden from view, and yet Saudi Arabia will formulate Palestinian-Jordanian backing for moves with Israel? Time will tell.

Pinhas Inbari is a veteran Arab affairs correspondent who formerly reported for Israel Radio and Al Hamishmar newspaper, and currently serves as an analyst for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

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