King Salman of Saudi Arabia didn’t attend this week’s Islamic summit in Istanbul, where leaders roundly criticized the United States for recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Neither did the Saudi Crown Prince. Also absent was Egyptian President al-Sisi who was represented by his foreign minister.
What’s even more interesting is that Salman is trying to steer discussion in a quite different direction. In a pointed departure from mainstream opinion in the Arab world, Salman has called for “a political solution to resolve regional crises, foremost of which is the Palestinian issue and the restoration of the Palestinian people’s legitimate rights, including the right to establish their independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital”.
The Palestinians, of course, or at least those who purport to speak for them, don’t want an independent state which coexists with Israel or East Jerusalem as that state’s capital; they want a Palestine “from the river to the sea”. The Trump administration’s move effectively closes off that possibility by putting the full faith and credit of the United States behind Jerusalem being the capital of the State of Israel. The only issue remaining, and it is for negotiation, is how a final settlement accommodates Palestinian interests in a united city.