The official reason for the Saudis end to financial aid is unknown, yet speculation is rife as Abbas has ignored suggestions of normalization with Israel, candidates for his replacement, and the distance he’s taken with the ‘Arab Quartet.’
In the last six months Saudi Arabia has discontinued financial aid for the Palestinian Authority, the Times of Israel website reported on Tuesday citing senior Ramallah officials.
According to the report, no reason was given for the withholding of the monthly payment of $20 million; however, a discord between Saudis and Palestinians may be linked to the widely reported rapprochement between the Gulf kingdom and Israel.
The Times of Israel report cites a purported Saudi “unhappiness” with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
- Hezbollah’s leader lashes out at Saudi Arabia’s ‘normalization with Israel’
- Abbas is worried the ‘Arab Quartet’ plans of peace with Israel may succeed
- Major shift against Palestinians seen in several international forums
Another reason for the halt may be the strained finances of Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter was hit by a slump in crude prices; earlier this year Riyadh announced a record budget deficit of $98 billion in 2015 and projected a shortfall of $87 billion next year.
While Israel and Saudi Arabia have no diplomatic ties, they are seen as sharing regional security interests particularly over Iran.
Israel has long viewed the Islamic Republic as one of its main threats in the region, while Sunni Saudi Arabia considers the Shi’ite nation as a contender for dominance in the Middle East.
Last year, then-Foreign Ministry Director Dore Gold met in Washington with high-level Saudi representatives to discuss the Iran nuclear deal, to which both countries were fiercely opposed.
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