Creation of Palestinian state must before normalising ties with Israel, says Saudi Arabia

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The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has categorically mentioned that the creation of a sovereign state for Palestinians is a must before it normalises ties with Israel. 

These remarks were made by Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud during MED2020, an event in Italy where world leaders gather. 

“What we need to make [normalisation of ties with Israel] happen is a peace deal that delivers a Palestinian state with dignity and with a workable sovereignty that Palestinians can accept,” he said. 

The Saudi foreign minister’s remarks came after speculation that Saudi Arabia is gearing to be the latest Arab country to normalise ties with Israel. 

Prince Faisal said ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel can be normalised in exchange for the creation of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borderlines.

“That deal would have to be negotiated, but what is important now is to bring back Israelis and Palestinians to the negotiating table to work towards a fair deal,” Prince Faisal said.

In September, US President Donald Trump brokered a deal between Israel, Bahrain and the UAE according to which both countries recognised and normalised relations with Israel. 

According to the deal, Israel halted its plans to annex Palestinian territory in exchange for the ties with Bahrain and the UAE. Palestinian officials condemned the normalisation as “a stab in the back of the Palestinian cause and the Palestinian people”.

Prince Faisal said normalisation of ties with Israel was a move that had been discussed previously by Saudi government officials. “It was first put on the table in Fez in 1982 by then Crown Prince Fahad,” he said.

“We still have that same vision, whereby Israel becomes a normal part of the region, where it has fully normal relations with the neighbours. What we need to make it happen is to deliver a [Palestinian] state.”

Riyadh’s two-sate solution is a close reflection of the Arab Peace Initiative, proposed by Saudi Arabia in 2002 whereby it proposed Israel establishes normal relations with its Arab neighbours but only after vacating areas it occupied during the 1967 war. 

The plan never saw implementation as Israel continued its expansion and occupation into Palestinian territory and refused to vacate the area it occupied in the 1967 war. 

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