Saudi Arabia reiterates rejection of Israel normalisation without Palestinian statehood

Saudi Arabia reiterates rejection of Israel normalisation without Palestinian statehood
The Saudi embassy in Washington has reaffirmed that there will be no normalisation with Israel before a Palestinian state is established.
3 min read
13 June, 2023
Israel continues to occupy the Palestinian West Bank in violation of international law [Getty]

Saudi Arabia has reiterated its refusal to establish ties with Israel before Tel Aviv reaches a peace agreement with the Palestinians, who are still living under Israeli occupation.

"Israel has a lot of potential, normalisation can do wonders; trade, cultural exchanges, but for that to happen, for the kingdom to take that step, we need that core dispute [with the Palestinians] to be resolved," Fahad Nazer, a spokesman for the Saudi embassy in Washington told Arab News.

The United States is trying to mediate talks between Israel and Saudi Arabia to establish diplomatic relations, as it did between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco in 2020.

But Saudi Arabia has repeatedly said it would only sign an agreement with Israel if a Palestinian state is established, in line with the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative.

Israel continues to occupy East Jerusalem and the West Bank in violation of international law and besiege the Gaza Strip. More than 160 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces and settlers since the start of 2023.

"Saudi Arabia’s position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been clear and consistent for many years, it was the late King Abdullah who in 2002 introduced the Arab Peace Initiative, the proposal offers Israel normalisation with all members of the Arab states, in return for a just and comprehensive peace with the Palestinians based on a two-state solution," Nazer told Arab News.

"That offer remains on the table, we hope they go back to the negotiating table, to try and resolve this dispute, which has brought much pain and suffering across the region," he added.

The spokesman’s interview with Arab News comes after comments made last week by Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, who said a regional normalisation push with Israel has "limited benefits" without Palestinians being given a state of their own.

"We believe that normalisation [with Israel] is in the interest of the region, that it would bring significant benefits to all,” he told reporters after meeting his US counterpart Antony Blinken who was visiting Riyadh.

Israel is keen to establish ties with Saudi Arabia, which recently re-established ties with long-time foe Iran and with the Syrian regime earlier this year as part of a Chinese-brokered deal.

Saudi Arabia is reportedly in talks with Israel to allow for direct Hajj flights for Palestinian citizens of Israel wishing to perform the annual pilgrimage. The flights could also include Palestinians from the occupied territories.

Palestinians who wish to journey to Saudi Arabia for the Muslim pilgrimage usually travel through third-party countries such as Jordan, due to Israeli restrictions on Palestinian travel.