As the geopolitical landscape of the Middle East undergoes seismic shifts, the Palestinian Authority has made a strategic pivot. According to Axios, the Authority has submitted a “list of requests” to Saudi Arabia, in anticipation of a possible normalization deal between the Gulf Kingdom and Israel. This marks a significant departure from their previous stance of boycotting such deals, as seen with the UAE and Bahrain. The move has far-reaching implications not just for the Middle East, but also for the global order, particularly in the context of American diplomacy.
The List of Requests: A New Palestinian Strategy
The Palestinian Authority’s list of requests to Saudi Arabia is a calculated move. The demands include granting the Palestinian Authority more control over certain areas in the West Bank, reopening the American consulate in Jerusalem, and Riyadh opening a consulate in Jerusalem. This list was submitted three months ago by Hussein Al-Sheikh, Secretary of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, to Saudi National Security Advisor Musaed Al-Aiban.
The Biden Administration’s Role
The Biden administration has been vocal about its desire for Israel to make concessions to the Palestinians to ensure the success of any normalization project with Saudi Arabia. This is a marked shift from the Trump administration, which brokered the Abraham Accords without such preconditions. The Biden administration is reportedly aware of the Palestinian requests, indicating a more nuanced approach to Middle East diplomacy.
Saudi Arabia’s Calculated Silence
Saudi Arabia has been largely reticent about the possibility of normalization with Israel. The Kingdom has emphasized that any such move must come after the establishment of a Palestinian state. This public stance is a diplomatic tightrope, balancing internal conservative elements with external diplomatic pressures.
The Palestinian Authority’s change in tactics is not just a regional issue; it has global ramifications. By choosing to participate rather than boycott, the Palestinians are signaling a willingness to engage in a new form of diplomacy. This could serve as a catalyst for other nations to rethink their strategies in the Middle East, potentially leading to a more stable region.
Israel’s Strategic Affairs
Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs, Ron Dermer, visited Washington earlier this August to discuss the normalization agreement with Saudi Arabia. The Israeli government seems to be recalibrating its strategy in light of the Biden administration’s stance and the Palestinian Authority’s new approach.
The Financial Angle
Among other things, the Palestinians are also seeking to resume financial support from Saudi Arabia, which has been suspended for several years. This adds an economic layer to the geopolitical complexities, potentially affecting the fiscal dynamics of the region.
The Palestinian Authority’s strategic pivot is a sign of a changing diplomatic landscape. It challenges conventional wisdom and reshapes perspectives on how diplomacy in the Middle East, and by extension the world, could evolve. As these negotiations continue, they will not only determine the future of Palestinian-Israeli relations but could also serve as a blueprint for a new, more nuanced form of international diplomacy.