Wednesday February 13, 2019
King Salman bin Abdulaziz (L) greeting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas before a meeting in Riyadh [File: AFP]
King Salman says his country ‘permanently stands by Palestine and its people’s right to an independent state’.
Saudi King Salman has said his kingdom is committed to an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital before a United States-led conference on Middle East peace and security.
The Saudi monarch was speaking on Tuesday during a meeting with visiting Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in the capital, Riyadh.
King Salman said his country “permanently stands by Palestine and its people’s right to an independent state with the occupied East Jerusalem as its capital,” reported the official Saudi Press Agency.
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The pledge comes as the US is expected to offer hints of its proposals for peace between Israel and the Palestinians at a conference in Poland’s capital, Warsaw.
Announcing the two-day conference last month, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that foreign ministers from around the world would attend to take up the “destabilising influence” of Iran in the Middle East.
But with most major European powers sending low-level representation, the US and Poland have toned down the agenda, saying the gathering is not focused on Iran but rather looking more broadly at the Middle East.
‘Deal of the century’
According to Palestinian official news agency Wafa, Abbas informed the Saudi king on the latest developments in the Palestinian territories and discussed the “political process in light of the continued Israeli violations against the Palestinian people, land, and holy sites, and attempts to pass the so-called ‘deal of the century’”.
US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, who has been putting the final touches on a “deal of the century” for the Middle East, will make a rare speaking appearance at the conference in Warsaw on Thursday.
Kushner, whose family is close to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is not expected to unveil the proposal until after the April 9 election in Israel.
Kushner will reportedly visit the Middle East by the end of this month, during which he is expected to make a stop in Saudi Arabia.
The Israeli daily Haaretz reported that the Palestinian Authority’s head of intelligence Majed Faraj met Saudi officials to discuss the US-proposed Middle East peace plan and its consequences.
The newspaper added that the Palestinian Authority is working to preemptively ensure Arab and Islamic countries will not support the deal.
The Trump administration faces a difficult task in selling any deal to the Palestinian Authority, which remains livid over his landmark 2017 decision to recognise Jerusalem – claimed by both peoples – as Israel’s capital.
The Palestinian government – which has labelled the Warsaw conference an “American conspiracy” – has refused talks with the US until it starts what it calls a more balanced policy.