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Amid normalization talks with Israel, Saudi Arabia appoints first-ever envoy to Palestinian Authority

Israel says it will not permit the opening of a Saudi consulate for Palestinians in Jerusalem

Saudi Ambassador Naif bin Bandar Al-Sudairi and Majdi al-Khalidi, advisor to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (Photo: WAFA)

Saudi Arabia appointed its first non-resident ambassador to the Palestinian Authority on Saturday.

Nayef bin Bandar al-Sudairi, the current Saudi ambassador to Jordan, presented his credentials to Majdi al-Khalidi, the advisor to Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas.

Al-Khalidi said the appointment “will strengthen the strong relations that bind our two brotherly peoples," and thanked Saudi Arabia for “its permanent support for the Palestinian cause in all international forums.”

Al-Sudairi will act as a non-resident envoy and continue to reside in Amman.

During an interview with 103FM Radio on Sunday morning, Foreign Minister Eli Cohen explained the move as a result of normalization negotiations.

“The Saudis want to convey a message to the Palestinians that they have not forgotten them,” Cohen said.

He added that there had been no coordination between the Saudi kingdom and Israel before the announcement.

“They don't need to ask for permission from us. They didn't coordinate with us and don't need to coordinate with us,” Cohen affirmed.

Israel, however, would not permit the opening of a Palestinian consulate in Jerusalem.

“We won’t allow the opening of any diplomatic mission of one kind or another,” Cohen stated.

The foreign minister refused to elaborate on details of the negotiations but said the “Palestinians are not an obstacle to peace. This is not what will prevent an agreement.”

According to Cohen, Saudi interests are related to security concerns, which he compared to agreements between the United States and South Korea.

“South Korea is the country that is the closest to a nuclear threat, the U.S. has decided to give it a protection umbrella from North Korea,” Cohen claimed.

A defense alliance would be the most palatable agreement for Israel, according to Cohen.

“I think that a defense alliance is the most correct step. I think that everything that happens in the Middle East, both vis a vis Iran and vis a vis Saudi Arabia, stems first and foremost from American interests.”

Cohen also said that Israel is aware of Saudi Arabia’s interests in the negotiations,

“What ultimately matters are the interests. The interests of Saudi Arabia matter no less than those of Israel,” the foreign minister said, adding, "This is a window of opportunity of 9-12 months, since, after this period, this US will be drawn into an election season."

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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