Palestinian authority extends warm welcome to first Saudi ambassador to Palestine


Nayef al-Sudairi, the inaugural Saudi ambassador to Palestine, has commenced his official mission in the region. Al-Sudairi, accompanied by a high-level delegation, arrived in the occupied West Bank through the Karama crossing from Jordan on Tuesday, embarking on a two-day official visit that is scheduled to conclude on Wednesday.

A key highlight of his visit includes the presentation of his credentials to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, symbolizing the establishment of formal diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia and Palestine. During his visit, Ambassador al-Sudairi is slated to hold pivotal meetings with Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki, President Abbas, and Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh.

The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs enthusiastically welcomed Ambassador al-Sudairi’s visit, hailing it as a “historic milestone for developing fraternal relations between the two sister countries.” PLO Secretary-General Hussein al-Sheikh expressed his support, stating, “We welcome his excellency the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the State of Palestine, who will present his official credentials,” as reported by the Palestinian news agency WAFA.

This diplomatic venture follows Ambassador al-Sudairi’s appointment as Saudi Arabia’s non-resident envoy to Palestine and consul general in Jerusalem in August of last year.

At a ceremony held at the Embassy of Palestine in Amman, Jordan, on August 12, 2022, a copy of his credentials was presented to Majdi al-Khalidi, the diplomatic adviser to President Abbas, in the presence of Atallah Khairi, the ambassador of Palestine to Jordan. Al-Sudairi’s credentials designate him as “Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz to the State of Palestine, and Consul General of the Kingdom in Jerusalem,” according to WAFA.

It is worth noting that Israel had previously opposed the establishment of a Saudi consulate in Jerusalem, asserting that Ambassador al-Sudairi could meet with Palestinian Authority representatives in the city but would not be allowed a fixed presence.

Jerusalem remains a contentious issue, with Israel claiming it as its capital, a stance recognized by the United States under former President Donald Trump in 2017, though not supported by the international community. Consequently, Israeli authorities prohibit any Palestinian diplomatic activity within the city.

Ambassador al-Sudairi’s appointment is particularly significant in light of reports suggesting that Saudi Arabia is contemplating the establishment of official diplomatic relations with Israel, influenced by pressure from the United States.

Nevertheless, experts and officials from the US, Israel, and Saudi Arabia suggest that a formal agreement is still distant, citing various complex issues, including Saudi nuclear power development and Israeli operations in the occupied West Bank. Riyadh has consistently maintained its adherence to the Arab League’s stance of refraining from establishing relations with Israel until a resolution to the Palestinian crisis is achieved.

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