US, Palestine diplomats to meet in Saudi to discuss Israel normalization deal

Middle East Monitor  /  September 5, 2023

US President Joe Biden’s senior Middle East adviser, Brett McGurk, will travel this week to Saudi Arabia to meet with senior Palestinian officials and discuss the Palestinian role in a possible US-sponsored normalization agreement between Riyadh and Israel, US website Axios reported on Sunday.

Axios cited an American source as saying that the Biden administration hopes to reach “realistic understandings” with the Palestinians, noting that McGurk will meet with the Secretary-General of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Hussein al-Sheikh, Palestinian Intelligence Chief, Majed Faraj and Abbas’s diplomatic advisor, Majdi al-Khalidi.

McGurk will be accompanied by the State Department’s senior diplomat for the Middle East, Barbara Leaf, who met with Palestinian Authority officials in Amman last week, “a meeting one Palestinian source described as tense,” according to the American website.

Palestinian officials told Leaf during their meeting last week that they “want the UN to recognize Palestine as a full member state,” Axios reported, citing a Palestinian source.

“Leaf responded by making it clear UN recognition wasn’t in the cards, disappointing the PA officials,” the US-based website added.