The foreign ministers of the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, and Jordan met on Saturday, August 19, 2017, in Cairo for a preparatory meeting before the visit of an American diplomatic delegation for the upcoming peace talks scheduled to take place in the coming days. The ministers emphasized their commitment to the “Arab initiative,” especially the establishment of a Palestinian state along the 1967 lines as a basis for peace. The meeting was initiated by the Palestinians, and it reflects their fear that the Trump Administration has not yet expressed support for the principle of two states. The Palestinians believe that remobilizing Arab support for the two state principle is critical to convince the Americans to adopt it. The Palestinians suspect that the Arab states may be dragged into a regional solution, which will bring about the realization of an Arab-Israel entente without the establishment first of a Palestinian state along the 1967 lines.
It should be noted that Saudi Arabia did not take part in the meeting. This is because Saudi Arabia usually does not participate in such meetings and because Saudi Arabia is dissatisfied with the neutrality of the Palestinians and Jordanians in Saudi Arabia’s bitter confrontation with Qatar. Saudi Arabia is anxious to get through the current Hajj to Mecca without calamity. Recently, both Qatar and Iran tried to undermine Saudi Arabia’s position as the Guardian of the Holy Places, and Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei also called to transfer the Hajj to Karbala, a Shiite holy city in Iraq.
To avoid tension, the Saudis agreed to ease the pressure on Qatar, including allowing pilgrims from Qatar to arrive on the Hajj.