Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other Arab states are facing criticism for disregarding Palestinian aspirations and allowing the US to draft a partisan deal on the Israel-Palestine conflict.
US President Donald Trump unveiled his long-awaited 'deal of the century' on Tuesday, aimed at resolving the vexed Israel-Palestine conflict.
It quickly drew sharp criticism from Palestinian leadership but evoked a muted response from the Arab world.
"I say to Trump and Netanyahu: Jerusalem is not for sale, all our rights are not for sale and are not for bargain. And your deal, the conspiracy, will not pass," Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said.
Although the deal recognises an independent Palestinian state, it grants Israel full sovereignty over West Bank settlements and identifies Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Trump and his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu hope to gain political leverage from the deal. But it left the Arab states on a precarious ladder since they have been the supporters of the Palestinian struggle against the Israeli occupation.
Trump's controversial plan was designed by his son-in-law Jared Kushner, who's known for holding pro-Zionist views and enjoys the support of evangelicals.
Most Arab countries responded to the deal with mixed messaging, indicating that they no longer support Palestine's long-standing demand for an independent nation state within the borders of pre-1967 Palestine.
Saudi Arabia tried to encourage direct negotiations between Palestinian leadership and the US.
“The kingdom appreciates the efforts of President Trump's administration to develop a comprehensive peace plan between the Palestinian and the Israeli sides,” Saudi's foreign ministry said after Trump unveiled the widely criticised deal.
The two sides should “resolve any disagreements with aspects of the plan through negotiations, in order to move forward the peace process to reach an agreement that achieves legitimate rights of the Palestinian people”, the Saudi foreign ministry added.
Before the deal was announced, Saudi Arabia and its regional allies reportedly pledged to fund it with an aim to end the Palestinian struggle against the Israeli occupation.
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman reportedly offered Mahmoud Abbas $10 billion to accept the US peace plan.
But King Salman has also tried to assuage the fears of Palestinian leadership. According to Saudi Press Agency, King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud reassured Saudi Arabia’s commitment to the Palestinian issue and their rights in a phone call with Mahmoud Abbas.
Many media reports suggest that Saudi Arabia, at times along with the UAE, held secret meetings with Israeli intelligence officials to draw a roadmap for normalising relations between Tel Aviv and Arab states, while keeping the Palestinian issue on the backburner.
Since then, Israel has never missed an opportunity to fawn over Saudi Arabia and the UAE leadership.
The UAE is another Arab country that welcomed Trump’s plan. Its ambassador to Washington Yousef al Otaiba described Trump's plan as "an important starting point for a return to negotiations within a US-led international framework".
Al Otaiba said the only way to guarantee a lasting solution was to reach an agreement between all concerned parties.
Last December, the UAE's Foreign Affairs Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan shared an article on Twitter, which supported an emerging alliance between Israel and the Arab states.
Netanyahu welcomed the tweet, praising al Nahyan and saying that closer readings between Israel and the Arab states will help the two sides to build peace amongst them.
The country invited both Israelis and Palestinians to “carefully study” the proposal. While stressing upon the “legitimate rights” of Palestinians and advocating for an independent and sovereign state, Egypt’s foreign ministry said the plan favours a solution to restore Palestinian rights by ignoring most important part of Trump’s plan, which is the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Since the Sisi regime staged a coup against Egypt’s freely-elected president Mohammed Morsi, the relationship between Egypt and Israel has become lucid thanks to their common hatred for the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.
Since Sisi came into power in 2014, he has kept the Sinai border crossing with Gaza largely sealed, suffocating its residents. At that time, it was the only passage for Gaza to the outside world.
Egypt, alongside Jordan, is the only Arab country to have officially made peace with Israel.
"The Arab Republic of Egypt appreciates the continuous efforts exerted by the US administration to achieve a comprehensive and just settlement of the Palestinian issue, thereby contributing to the stability and security of the Middle East, ending the Palestinian-Israeli conflict," Egypt's foreign ministry said.
Official news agency of Qatar released a statement in which it welcomed Trump’s plan saying that it appreciated the endeavours of the US to find solutions for the conflict.
Oman and Bahrain
Although both countries refuse to recognise Israel as a legitimate state, top diplomats of Oman and Bahrain were spotted applauding the plan in Washington, receiving praise from Trump.