Top US, PA envoys to meet in Saudi Arabia... What's on the Horizon?
The US and Saudi Arabia seek Palestinian approval for the deal, but the PA demands UN recognition as a full member state in exchange.
Washington will dispatch veteran senior Middle East advisor, Bret McGurk, to Saudi Arabia this week to meet with senior officials of the Palestinian Authority in the context of a mega-deal in the workings, which will establish a framework for normalization between Saudi Arabia and "Israel," Axios reports, citing unnamed Palestinian sources familiar with the issue.
The Biden administration will look to reach "realistic understandings" with the Palestinian delegation, a US source told Axios. Through the deal, the US is expected to secure some of the PA's interests in the West Bank, but the PA's greenlighting of normalization between Riyadh and the occupation will not entail comprehensive work to aid in Palestinian statehood aspirations.
McGurk is expected to meet with Hussein Al-Sheikh, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' deputy, the head of the PA's intelligence, Major General Majed Faraj, and Majdi Khaldi, Abbas' senior diplomatic advisor, Axios reported.
The US delegation will include Barbra Leaf, the State Department's senior diplomat for the Middle East, who met PA officials in Amman, Jordan last week, in what has been described as a tense meeting, according to the news website's sources.
US to limit PA demands
Palestinian officials demanded that the UN recognize Palestine, which is currently a non-member observer State, and that it be granted status in the UN as a full member state; a long-sought-after goal for the Palestinian Authority.
However, Leaf denied the Palestinian delegation's request, saying that such a demand "wasn't in the cards," Axios wrote.
Washington has reportedly made it clear to "Tel Aviv" that it would not have to make major concessions to the PA in any normalization deal with Saudi Arabia. Both Saudi Arabia and the United States hold substantial interests in obtaining the Palestinian Authority's approval of the deal.
On the one hand, the Biden administration seeks to present the deal as beneficial to the Palestinian people to Democrat members of the Senate who are in opposition to Saudi Arabia's government and that of "Israel."
On the other hand, Saudi Arabia seeks to "legitimize" "any eventual agreement" with the Israeli occupation and push back on critics accusing it of "sacrificing" the Palestinian people and their efforts to establish an independent state, according to WSJ.