RAMALLAH: The agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran to restore diplomatic ties could help mobilize support for the Palestinian cause and might even pave the way for possible reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas, according to Palestinian sources.
Politicians and analysts described the deal as a positive step that could enhance security and stability in the region, thereby improving the ability of Arab and Islamic countries to respond collectively and effectively to threats and challenges, and to defend the interests of Palestinian people and support their cause.
On March 10, following talks in Beijing sponsored by China, Saudi Arabia and Iran announced that diplomatic relations will resume and their embassies reopen within two months. Many political analysts and experts said that the agreement is likely to negatively affect Israel by weakening its position and strengthening the Palestinian cause.
Jibril Rajoub, the secretary general of Fatah’s Central Committee, told Arab News that he believes the Saudi-Iranian rapprochement represents a strategic step that will significantly affect security, stability and other regional interests and issues, including the Palestinian cause.
At the start of the weekly Palestinian Authority cabinet session in Ramallah, Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh welcomed the agreement.
According to Ahmed Majdalani, the Palestinian minister of social development, the agreement between Riyadh and Tehran will undoubtedly have a positive effect on security and stability in the region, and on the Palestinian cause. It might also help to improve the relationship between Fatah and Hamas, he told Arab News.
Nasser Al-Kidwa, a former Palestine Liberation Organization representative to the UN, told Arab News he believes the agreement would aid the Palestinian cause by weakening Israel.
Islam Shahwan, an expert on security and political affairs from Gaza, said: “The effect (of the Saudi-Iran agreement) will focus on strengthening support for the Palestinian cause.”
The Kingdom’s influence on the Palestinian Authority and Iran’s influence on Hamas and Islamic Jihad might, in turn, result in Hamas agreeing a long-term truce in the West Bank, he told Arab News.
Saudi Arabia might also be more open to dealing with Hamas and Islamic Jihad, contribute more to projects that support Palestinians in East Jerusalem, and generally strengthen the Kingdom’s role and image as the most prominent Islamic country, Shahwan added.
Political analyst Majdi Halabi said that the Saudi rapprochement might influence Tehran’s point of view and persuade it to support a two-state solution to end the occupation of Palestinian territory, rather than calling for the elimination of Israel.
“Saudi Arabia’s adopted perspective, represented in the Arab Peace initiative of 2002, is closer to resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict than Iran, which talks about liberating Jerusalem and erasing Israel from existence, but these hollow slogans do not benefit the Palestinian cause,” Halabi told Arab News.
Noting the overwhelming Israeli anger over the agreement, he added that the Kingdom is one of the few countries capable of persuading Israel to return to the negotiating table with the Palestinians, thanks to its regional and international political influence.
However, Halabi is less optimistic about the ability of Saudi Arabia or Iran to bring about a reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas, pointing out that Saudi Arabia has previously tried to encourage this and failed.
Mukhaimer Abu Saada, a political science professor at Al-Azhar University in Gaza, agreed that there still appears to be little prospect of Fatah and Hamas resolving their differences. But he told Arab News that there would be no chance of the Kingdom normalizing relations with Israel, as some other Arab nations have done in recent years, until the Palestinian issue is resolved.
Veteran Palestinian politician Nabil Amr also told Arab News that he does not believe the agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran will improve the chances of reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas.