Palestinians protest the Mideast plan announced by the U.S. President Donald Trump, in Hebron, West Bank, Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020. Trump’s Mideast plan would create a disjointed Palestinian state with a capital on the outskirts of East Jerusalem, beyond the separation barrier built by Israel. The rest of Jerusalem, including the Old City, would remain Israel’s capital. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)
KUWAIT CITY, Jan 30, (Agencies): The Kuwaiti Foreign Ministry said Wednesday that it highly appreciates US efforts to resolve the Palestinian issue and end the over-70- year Arab-Israeli confl ict that has caused bitter sufferings to the Palestinian people and undermined regional security and stability.
The ministry said in a statement that just out of its principled and unwavering position based on backing the options of the Palestinian people, Kuwait restates that a just and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian issue can be reached only through compliance with relevant international legitimacy resolutions and terms of reference laid down by the international community, chiefly an independent and sovereign state on the June 4, 1967 border with its capital in East Jerusalem.
A tectonic shift in relations quietly underway for years now was on full display as representatives of Gulf Arab states attended President Donald Trump’s unveiling this week of an Israeli-Palestinian plan that heavily sides with Israel and all but crushes Palestinian aspirations.
The audience at the White House, when Trump presented the plan alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, included Christian Zionist leaders and staunch pro-Israel supporters, such as Republican party donor Sheldon Adelson. Rounding out the crowd was ambassadors of the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Oman, who posed for a photo at the White House ceremony for the plan, which Palestinians have outright rejected. For the Arab perspective, however, Saudi Arabia’s reaction was the one most closely watched. The Kingdom expressed support for the Trump administration’s efforts but did not send its ambassador to attend the ceremony.
The Saudi response was also significant for what it didn’t say — the Kingdom did not endorse the plan, but also made no explicit mention of long-held Arab demands for a Palestinian state on occupied land with East Jerusalem as its capital. Rather, Saudi Arabia encouraged Palestinians to start “direct peace negotiations,” essentially urging the Palestinians to accept the White House’s framework as the starting point for talks. “The Saudis crafted their message to appeal to two audiences: their domestic public and the Trump administration,” Kristin Diwan Smith, a scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, said.
Their formal statement, she said, does nothing to offend Trump or deter the Israelis. With the exception of Kuwait, all Gulf Arab countries have engaged in outreach with Israel or pro-Israeli figures in recent years. The effort has accelerated as Saudi Arabia and Israel share a common threat in Iran.
Avi Berkowitz, a White House staffer intimately involved in drafting the plan, immediately thanked Saudi Arabia for its statement. In five separate tweets, he shared the Saudi response, as well as an article on the conservative Fox News network that carried the headline: “Saudi Arabia backs US-Israel efforts to achieve Mideast peace.” That tweet was shared by Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump, whose husband Jared Kushner was the chief architect of the plan.