Saudi Envoy to Palestine Sparks Israeli Ire Over Jerusalem Claim

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Saudi Arabia has appointed a new envoy to Palestine, who will also serve as consul-general in Jerusalem, a move that has drawn criticism from Israel and raised questions about the kingdom’s stance on normalization with the Israeli occupation.

Nayef Al-Sudairi, the Saudi ambassador to Jordan, expanded his credentials on Saturday to include non-resident envoy to the Palestinians, according to a social media post by his embassy in Amman.

The post said that Al-Sudairi’s duties would include “consul-general in Jerusalem”, a term that implies recognition of East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

Israel, which deems Jerusalem its own capital and bars Palestinian diplomatic activity in the city, rejected the possibility of a Saudi diplomatic base in Jerusalem.

“We will not allow the opening of any kind of diplomatic mission” in Jerusalem, Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen told Tel Aviv radio station 103 FM.

Cohen said Al-Sudairi’s appointment had not been coordinated with Israel, but suggested it could be related to the US efforts to broker normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

“What is behind this development is that, against the backdrop of progress in the US talks with Saudi Arabia and Israel, the Saudis want to relay a message to the Palestinians that they have not forgotten them,” Cohen said.

Saudi Arabia officially supports the Palestinian cause and has so far shunned official ties with the Israeli occupation, although informal relations exist.

The US has been heavily promoting a normalization agreement between the Israeli occupation and Saudi Arabia similar to 2020’s Abraham Accords between the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and the Israeli occupation.

Palestinians slammed that agreement as a betrayal of their cause.

Bassam Al-Agha, the Palestinian ambassador to Riyadh, cast Al-Sudairi’s appointment as Saudi affirmation of Palestinian statehood and “rejection of what had been announced by former US President Trump” regarding Jerusalem.

“This means a continuation of Saudi Arabia’s positions,” Al-Agha told Voice of Palestine radio.

Israel’s extreme-right government has played down any prospect of it giving significant ground to the Palestinians as part of a normalization deal with Saudi Arabia.

Riyadh has previously conditioned recognition of Israel on Palestinians’ statehood goal being addressed.

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