Saudi Arabia has announced the appointment of its first ambassador to Palestine, a move that was welcomed by the Palestinian Authority but also raised suspicions about a possible deal with Israel.
The new ambassador, Nayef al-Sudairi, is currently serving as the Saudi envoy to Jordan and will continue to do so. He presented his credentials to a Palestinian official in Amman on Saturday, according to a statement from the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Saudi Arabia is the fourth Arab country to appoint an ambassador to Palestine, after Egypt, Jordan, and Morocco. The decision comes amid increased speculation about a potential normalization agreement between Saudi Arabia and Israel, which has been reportedly encouraged by the US administration.
Palestinian officials in Ramallah praised the Saudi move as a “diplomatic victory” and a “historic achievement” that reflects the Kingdom’s support for the Palestinian cause. However, some also expressed fear that the move could be part of a larger US-engineered plan that would see the Kingdom normalize its relations with Israel.
A senior Palestinian official said he hoped the Saudi decision was not a way of appeasing the Palestinians ahead of a normalization deal with Israel. He added that most of the reports about an imminent agreement between Saudi Arabia and Israel did not seem credible.
Another Palestinian official said that President Mahmoud Abbas had assured Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan that he would not oppose a normalization deal between Riyadh and Jerusalem.
Former Palestinian negotiator Hassan Asfour urged the Palestinian leadership to discuss the issue of Israeli-Saudi normalization with the Saudi government and to propose the formation of a committee consisting of the Palestinians, Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia to address regional developments and their connection to the Palestinian issue.