October 14, 2020 by David Singer
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Saudi Arabia and Jordan have engaged in a twin-pronged attack on the PLO and Hamas seemingly intended to get them to bury the hatchet and begin negotiations with Israel on allocating sovereignty in Gaza and Judea and Samaria (West Bank) under President Trump’s 2020 Peace Plan.
Prince Bandar bin Sultan Al-Saud – Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States 1983 – 2005, secretary-general of the National Security Council 2005-2019 and director-general of the Saudi Intelligence Agency 2012 – 2014 – provides a fascinating insight into the many failures of the Palestinian Arab leadership he witnessed from 1978 to 2015 in an Arab News article headlined “Setting the record straight”.
Bandar is particularly critical of the PLO and Hamas – after Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah brought PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal to Mecca for crisis talks in February 2007 to end the deadly PLO-Hamas violence that had followed the January 2005 presidential election won by Abbas and the January 2006 legislative election won by Hamas:
“After (King Abdullah) checked what they had written and read it in front of everyone and asked them to vow before God and in front of everyone that they agree to this deal, he asked them to shake hands and congratulated them, saying, ‘God is our witness, and we are in his holy land. (Prince) Saud (bin Faisal), take the brothers to the Kaaba and let them pledge their word before God and before the Palestinian people.’ Only a few days after they left Saudi Arabia, we received news they had already gone back on their word and started conspiring and plotting against each other once again.”
No elections since 2006 and no reconciliation between the PLO and Hamas continues.
Bandar recalls the many times the Palestinian leadership asked Saudi Arabia for advice and help – took the help but ignored the advice:
“Then they would fail and turn back to us again, and we would support them again, regardless of their mistakes,” he said. This nature of the relationship, he felt, might have convinced the Palestinian leadership that “there is no price to pay for any mistakes they commit towards the Saudi leadership or the Saudi state, or the Gulf leaderships and states.”
Reconciling their differences is the price the PLO and Hamas have to pay for future Saudi help – following peace treaties signed by Israel with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain whilst Saudi Arabia has granted Israel’s commercial airlines the right to fly in Saudi Arabian air space.
Commercial airlines will now be able to fly faster and cheaper through the Israel-Jordan corridor from the Gulf States and Asia to destinations in Europe and North America after Israel signed a historic aviation agreement with Jordan on 8 October following many years of negotiations.
If Israel and Jordan can negotiate an agreement for flights over the West Bank and Gaza – then Israel and Jordan can determine West Bank/Gaza’s final status pursuant to Article 3 (2) of the 1994 Jordan – Israel Peace Treaty:
“The boundary, as set out in Annex I (a), is the permanent, secure and recognized international boundary between Jordan and Israel, without prejudice to the status of any territories that came under Israeli military government control in 1967.” (Territories)
Jordan’s message to the PLO is clear: Negotiate with Israel on the final status of Gaza and 70% of the West Bank designated in Trump’s Peace Plan – or risk being replaced by Jordan instead.
Saudi Arabia and Jordan are tightening the screws on the PLO and Hamas threatening to reduce them to footnotes in history.
David Singer is a Sydney lawyer and a foundation member of the International Analysts Network
Author’s note: The cartoon – commissioned exclusively for this article — is by Yaakov Kirschen aka “Dry Bones”- one of Israel’s foremost political and social commentators – whose cartoons have graced the columns of Israeli and international media publications for decades. His cartoons can be viewed at Drybonesblog