Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud said in an interview with Bloomberg Thursday said that normalization between Israel and the kingdom would only come as a result of Palestinian statehood.
“Our approach to Israel, to Israel/Palestine has been consistent,” Faisal said on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “We have said consistently that we believe normalization with Israel is something that is very much in the interest of the region. […] However, true normalization and true stability will only come through giving the Palestinians hope, through giving Palestinians dignity and that requires giving the Palestinians a state.”
“I will also gather all nations, And bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat;
And I will enter into judgment with them there On account of My people, My heritage Israel, Whom they have scattered among the nations; They have also divided up My land.” Joel 3:2
In 2002, Saudi Arabia introduced the “Arab Peace Initiative,” an offer to fully normalize relations between Israel and the Arab states in exchange for Israel’s withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders and the establishment of a Palestinian state. The 2020 Abraham Accords that normalized relations between Israel, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates, and that were later joined by Morocco, offered hope that Israel might establish ties with Arab countries without resolving the Palestinian conflict.
Faisal’s comments pour a dash of cold water on that notion.
“I think the priority needs to be bringing the Israelis and the Palestinians to the negotiating table in a way that provides a pathway to a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital,” he said.
Israel’s new government and the Biden administration have said that expanding the Abraham Accords, including to Saudi Arabia, is among their highest priorities.
“There is nothing that would make us happier if, at some point, Saudi Arabia will normalize ties with Israel. It would be great for both countries and the security in the region,” US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides said Wednesday. “I don’t think we’re there yet.”