Palestinian Foreign Affairs Minister Riyad Al-Malki. (MOFA) (MOFA)
Palestinian Foreign Affairs Minister Riad Al-Malki

The Palestinians on Monday called on Arab nations to boycott or downgrade their representation at a Mideast summit co-hosted by the United States, as President Mahmoud Abbas traveled to Saudi Arabia discuss “the dangers facing the Palestinian cause.”

By Associated Press and United with Israel Staff

The conference in Poland is widely seen as a U.S.-led effort to isolate Iran, which bankrolls terror groups throughout the region, such as Hamas Hezbollah, and was not invited to the summit

Earlier Monday, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Malki asked Arab countries to boycott or downgrade their representation at the Poland conference, which begins Wednesday.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are sending foreign ministers to the conference. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is attending. The Palestinians for their par cut off all contacts with the Trump administration after it recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will meet King Salman in Saudi Arabia this week to discuss “the current political situation and the dangers facing the Palestinian cause, especially Jerusalem,” the Palestinian leader’s office said.

The official Palestinian news agency WAFA quoted the Palestinian ambassador in Saudi Arabia as saying “the visit is a continuation of the communication between the two leaderships under difficult international circumstances, as well as attempts to terminate the Palestinian cause.”

Both publicly, and behind the scenes, Saudi Arabia has strengthened ties with Israel during the past few years, a development that has infuriated the Palestinians.

A senior Palestinian official said the visit had come at the invitation of the Saudi king, and talks were expected to focus on a peace plan the U.S. says it is working on. The Palestinians have preemptively rejected the plan, notwithstanding the fact that it has not even been released.

The U.S. has said the Warsaw conference is aimed at promoting peace and security in the Middle East. But it appears to be focused on building a united front against Iran, a country that both Israel and the Saudis see as a grave threat.

U.S. officials say that Trump’s chief Mideast adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner will also discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is not clear if this will include details of his peace plan.

Al-Malki told the Voice of Palestine that the Palestinians “view the Warsaw conference as a plot against the Palestinian cause.”

Most Arab nations have refrained from establishing relations with Israel without significant progress toward peace with the Palestinians. But many Gulf states share Israel’s concerns about Iran’s growing influence and have begun inching toward a detente with the Jewish state.