Ex-Saudi intelligence chief criticises Trump's treatment of Palestinians

Ex-Saudi intelligence chief says Trump 'not an honest peace broker to Palestinians'
3 min read
23 September, 2020
Prince Turki Al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia's former intelligence chief, has criticised President Donald Trump for his sidelining of the Palestinians in US Middle East policy.
Prince Turki said King Faisal would have been 'disappointed' with the deal [Getty]

US President Donald Trump has not been an "honest broker" in dealing with the Palestinians, former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal said on Tuesday.

Speaking to CNBC from Jeddah, the son of the late Saudi king Faisal bin Abdulaziz said his father would have been "disappointed" with current moves to normalise relations with Israel.

“His [King Faisal’s] decision to impose oil sanctions on the United States after the Americans decided to give more aid to Israel during the Ramadan War [the 1973 Arab-Israeli war] for the reason to force the United States to be an honest broker between Israel [and] the Arab world,” Prince Turki said.

“And I must say that President Trump has not been such an honest broker. So yes, I think the late king would have been disappointed.”

The late King Faisal, who ruled Saudi Arabia in the 60s and 70s, is still widely revered in the Muslim world for his austere religiosity and is also remembered as a moderniser.

Prince Turki's remarks come amid reports of a rift within Saudi Arabia over whether Riyadh should support normalisation with Israel or oppose it until Israel withdraws from the Palestinian territories. 

According to a recent report from the Wall Street Journal, Saudi officials said that the kingdom's current ruler, Salman bin Abdulaziz, was left "stunned" when President Trump announced that Israel and the UAE had agreed to establish full diplomatic relations.

The WSJ sources said the kingdom's de-facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was less surprised. He reportedly kept his father in the dark about the deal, fearing he would oppose the move because the deal made no mention of Palestinian statehood.

King Salman's anger at the UAE normalisation deal allegedly spurred him to order his minister of state for foreign affairs, Adel al-Jubeir, to restate Saudi Arabia's support for an independent Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

With the Trump administration determined to build on the momentum of the UAE-Israel deal, Jared Kushner pressed the father-son duo to accept a proposal for a normalization deal in a palace meeting on September 1, but on that occasion Prince Mohammed refused to accept this.

He reportedly said that the furthest the Kingdom would go would be to push Bahrain, widely seen as its vassal state, to participate in the deal, according to people familiar with his discussion with Kushner.

Read also: Bahrain's normalisation deal with Israel is lots of risk for little gain

A senior US official said that Mohammed bin Salman agreed to open Saudi airspace to Israeli flights in the meeting, and assured Kushner that Bahrain had "clear pathway" to normalisation with Israel.

Two advisers close to the crown prince said he wants to reach a deal with Israel but sees it as an impossibility as long as his father is alive, the WSJ reported.

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