Saudi Arabia denies Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meeting with Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu despite reports

Saudi Arabia denies Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meeting with Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu despite reports
A Saudi Arabian minister has said there are no plans for the crown prince to meet with Netanyahu in spite of reports suggesting normalisation drive.
2 min read
13 February, 2020
Saudi Arabia does not have diplomatic relations with Israel. [Getty]
Saudi Arabia's foreign minister said Thursday Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had no plans to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, after reports the Israeli premier was seeking talks.

"There is no meeting planned between Saudi Arabia and Israel", Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan told Saudi-owned Al Arabiya English, responding to the recent reports in Israeli media.

"Saudi Arabia's policy has been very clear since the beginning of this conflict. There are no relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel and the kingdom stands firmly behind Palestine," the foreign minister said.

However Saudi Arabia is among Gulf states that have made recent moves suggesting warmer ties with Israel.

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The Kingdom has expressed support for Donald Trump’s controversial Middle East peace plan despite the fact that Palestinian leaders are vehemently against it, as are human rights organisations and many world leaders.

Saudi Arabia's foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir endorsed Trump's so-called Deal of the Century in a press conference on Thursday, stating that the controversial deal had some "positive elements".

"There are positive elements in Trump's peace plan, which can serve as a basis for negotiation," the top diplomat said during a visit to Romania.

He said the deal may not come into fruition easily because of Palestinian opposition.

"We have an Arab peace initiative with Israel," he said, referring to the 2002 initiative of creating peace with Israel in exchange of the Palestinian right to return and a withdrawal of illegal Israeli settlements.

The Deal of the Century, however, disregards the initiative by annexing parts of the occupied West Bank to Israel.

"The Palestinians believe that the Trump plan is not appropriate for them and we cannot negotiate on their behalf. We must support their decision."

The Deal of the Century is also problematic because it does not recognise the Right of Return, the bedrock of the internationally recognised two-state solution.

In late January Saudi Arabia said it “appreciates” President Donald Trump’s efforts on the plan, and when asked about Netanyahu's meeting earlier this month with Sudanese leader General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, Prince Faisal said:

"Sudan is a sovereign nation. They can assess their own sovereign interests."

The Palestine Liberation Organisation called the meeting "a stab in the back of the Palestinian people".

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