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Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Strategic Alliances for a Secure, Connected, and Prosperous Region

Moderate Arab States: “We’re with Trump” 

Filed under: Palestinians, U.S. Policy

Moderate Arab States: “We’re with Trump” 
Mahmoud Abbas at the UN in February 11, 2020 (UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe)

The Palestinian Authority’s loud and vigorous opposition to President Trump’s “Deal of the Century” puts the Palestinians in conflict not only with Israel and the United States, but also with the axis of moderate Sunni Arab states, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf. The Palestinian goal is to foil President Trump with a coalition consisting of European allies, the UN, and Third World countries such as Venezuela, a stronghold for Palestinian policies in South America.

The PA requires a containment policy in the anticipation that Trump will lose in another year. With Trump’s defeat, the PA can re-leverage Obama-era policies to strengthen the UN, gain “international legitimacy,”  once again isolate Israel in the international community, and, with the latest UN High Commissioner for Human Rights report, give BDS the stamp of UN legitimacy.

This Palestinian position is a nightmare for the moderate Sunni states, for whom it is clear that a return to Obama’s policies is also a return to the nuclear agreement with Iran. Such a policy reversal will again leverage Iran and Turkey as regional Islamic powers, representing the Muslim Brotherhood, to the detriment of moderate Sunni Arab states.

Sources in Ramallah related a story about this point of contention in the Arab world. After Trump won the U.S. election but before he entered the White House (December 2016), an anti-Israel resolution (UNSC Res. 2334) was raised in the Security Council. The U.S. Administration decided to set a precedent and failed to veto actions against Israel. Egypt had submitted the resolution to the Security Council. At that moment, Mahmoud Abbas was visiting Saudi King Salman, and while they were talking, Egyptian President Sisi called from Cairo. He informed King Salman that he had decided to withdraw the anti-Israel resolution from the Security Council.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas received by King Salman in Riyadh Saudi Arabia, December 21, 2016.
Saudi King Salman received President Mahmoud Abbas in Riyadh on December 21, 2016. (Saudi Press Agency)

According to our sources, the King of Saudi Arabia said to Sisi in Arabic: “Allah yisahel aleik,” essentially saying, “Do as you wish.” Abbas, disappointed that the Saudis were not encouraging the anti-Israel resolution, interrupted the phone conversation and implored Sisi, “At least ask Trump not to move the embassy to Jerusalem.” Sisi answered: “We are with Trump.”

“We are with Trump” is the headline of Arab policy to date, and the current Palestinian policy against Trump conflicts with the fundamental interests of Arab states.