Israel rules out Jerusalem base for Saudi envoy to Palestinians

Israel rules out Jerusalem base for Saudi envoy to Palestinians
Israel has said that it will not allow any Saudi envoy to the Palestinians to set up a base in occupied East Jerusalem.
2 min read
The US has been pushing for a normalisation of relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia [Getty]

Israel ruled out on Sunday a diplomatic base in Jerusalem for the new Saudi envoy to the Palestinians, whose appointment comes as Washington tries to forge normalisation between Israel and Riyadh.

Saudi Ambassador to Jordan Nayef Al-Sudairi on Saturday expanded his credentials to include non-resident envoy to the Palestinians. A social media post by his embassy in Amman said "consul-general in Jerusalem" was now among Al-Sudairi's duties.

That appeared to correspond with the Palestinians' long-standing goal of founding a state in territories Israel continues to occupy in violation of international, with East Jerusalem as capital.

Israel deems Jerusalem its own capital, a status recognised by the United States under then-President Donald Trump in 2017 but not by the majority of the international community.

Israeli occupation authorities bar Palestinian diplomatic activity in the city.

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

The US has been heavily promoting a normalisation agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia similar to 2020's Abraham Accords between the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and Israel.

Palestinians slammed that agreement as a betrayal of their cause.

"This [Al-Sudairi] could be a delegate who will meet with representatives in the Palestinian Authority," Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen told Tel Aviv radio station 103 FM.

"We will not allow the opening of any kind of diplomatic mission" in Jerusalem, Cohen added. "Will there be an official physically sitting in Jerusalem? This we will not allow."

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

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


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."

"This means a continuation of Saudi Arabia's positions," Al-Agha told Voice of Palestine radio.

While Cohen said Al-Sudairi's appointment had not been coordinated with Israel, he saw a possible link to the normalisation prospects.

"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.

(Reuters and The New Arab Staff)