Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas traveled to Saudi Arabia unexpectedly on Monday to meet with King Salman and Crown Prince Muhammed Bin Salman, with the Gulf kingdom at the height of a major crackdown on members of the royal family.
Abbas had been in Egypt, where he was scheduled to meet with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, when he was summoned to Riyadh to meet with the Saudi rulers, according to the official PA news site Wafa.
The timing is very curious, as this sudden invitation came at the same time of the current upheaval in Saudi Arabia where some leaders were placed under house arrest.
Palestinians are making jokes about it:
Some social media users suggested that Abbas had been summoned to Saudi Arabia to hand in his resignation letter, in the same manner as Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who resigned from Riyadh on Saturday.
Others tried to guess which luxury hotel Abbas would be placed under house arrest in.
The tweets were in reference to the wave of arrests of tens of Saudi princes and businessmen and their detention at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, as well as Saad’s resignation.
One Arab analyst did float an interesting idea, though.
As the PA is slowly working to take over parts of Gaza, Hamas plans to maintain its military forces – exactly the way Hezbollah does in Lebanon outside the Lebanese army.
And Hamas has been very chummy with Iran, with their leaders visiting Iran only a couple of weeks ago.
Saudi Arabia is sufficiently worried about Iran that it may be possible that this is meant to push Abbas to stop any more encroachment by the mullahs into Gaza.
If this was only about the moribund “peace process” it could have waited. But when it comes to threats from Iran, and during the ongoing negotiations between the PA and Hamas under Egyptian oversight, this theory makes as much sense as any other.
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