According to an exclusive run by Axios, during the March 27 meeting Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman held with major Jewish groups in New York City (pause and consider that for a moment), he made it known that the Palestinians were not driving the train on Middle East politics. And he didn’t sugarcoat his views:
“In the last several decades the Palestinian leadership has missed one opportunity after the other and rejected all the peace proposals it was given. It is about time the Palestinians take the proposals and agree to come to the negotiations table or shut up and stop complaining.”
And that has been the underlying issue. So long as there is no settlement, the Palestinian leadership has regular access to the teat of the EU and UN and gets invited to all the best places. The Palestinians are kept docile by feeding them a steady stream of anti-Semitic propaganda that would have made Julius Streicher blush and blaming the Jews for all the economic problems in Gaza and the West Bank.
The moment a settlement is reached, the Palestinian leadership has to perform. And it simply can’t.
Bin Salman also shows he has a very firm grip on reality:
1. He made clear the Palestinian issue was not a top priority for the Saudi government or Saudi public opinion. MBS said Saudi Arabia “has much more urgent and important issues to deal with” like confronting Iran’s influence in the region.
2. Regardless of all his criticism of the Palestinian leadership, MBS also made clear that in order for Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states to normalize relations with Israel there will have to be significant progress on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
Throughout the past year, there has been a seismic shift in the Middle East. Thanks to Obama, the Arab states are much more fearful of Iranian hegemony than they are interested in hating Israel. The Palestinians, particularly Hamas, are getting a reputation for being too cozy with the Iranians. Trump’s full-throated support of Israel has given Israel more confidence to act in concert with Arab states. All of this has created an environment where the US is moving its embassy to Jerusalem and absolutely no Arab government cares. Palestinians are trying to breach the wall with Gaza and getting no support. It is now possible for non-Israeli aircraft en route to Tel Aviv to fly directly over Saudi Arabia.
If there was ever a moment where a permanent resolution to the Israel-Palestine question were actually possible, you’re looking at it. And so is Mike Pompeo.