Saudi Arabia won't recognise Israel without Palestinian state: FM

Saudi Arabia won't recognise Israel without Palestinian state: FM
Saudi FM Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud said there can be no normalisation of ties with Israel without resolving the Palestinian issue
3 min read
Saudi Arabia Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud in Davos, Switzerland [Getty]

Saudi Arabia's foreign minister says the kingdom will not normalise relations with Israel or contribute to Gaza's reconstruction without a credible pathway to a Palestinian state.

Prince Faisal bin Farhan's remarks in an interview with CNN broadcast late Sunday were some of the most direct yet from Saudi officials. It puts them at odds with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has rejected Palestinian statehood and described plans for open-ended military control over Gaza.

The dispute over Gaza’s future — coming as the war still rages with no end in sight — pits the US and its Arab allies against Israel and poses a major obstacle to any plans for postwar governance or reconstruction in Gaza.

Before the 7 October Hamas attack, the US had been trying to broker a landmark agreement in which Saudi Arabia would normalise relations with Israel in exchange for US security guarantees, aid in establishing a civilian nuclear program in the kingdom, and progress toward resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In September, Netanyahu had said Israel was "at the cusp” of such a deal, which he said would transform the Middle East.

In the interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS, the host asked: “Are you saying unequivocally that if there is not a credible and irreversible path to a Palestinian state, there will not be normalization of relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel?"

"That’s the only way we’re going to get a benefit," Prince Faisal replied. "So, yes."

Earlier in the interview, when asked if Saudi Arabia would finance reconstruction in Gaza — where Israel's air and ground offensive has devastated vast swaths of the impoverished territory, Prince Faisal gave a similar answer.

"As long as we’re able to find a pathway to a solution, a resolution, a pathway that means that we’re not going to be here again in a year or two, then we can talk about anything," he said. “But if we are just resetting to the status quo before October 7, in a way that sets us up for another round of this, as we have seen in the past, we’re not interested in that conversation."

Jordan's foreign minister has also lambasted the Israeli government, criticising its "radical racist agenda" on Monday and added that it was defying the world in its refusal to accept a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians.

"The only way out of this misery is a two-state solution," Ayman Safadi told reporters at an EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels. "They are defying the whole international community and it is about time the world took a stand."

The West Bank and east Jerusalem have been occupied by Israel since the 1967 Mideast war.

Israel views all of Jerusalem as its capital and the West Bank as the historical and biblical heartland of the Jewish people.

As many as 700,000 Israeli settlers - 10 percent of Israel’s nearly 7 million population - built scores of illegal settlements and outposts across both territories that were built on private lands in the occupied West Bank. 

Since 7 October, there has been a spike in settler attacks which had forced hundreds of Palestinians to flee their homes in the West Bank. 

Israel's offensive during its current war has killed at least 25,295 Palestinians in Gaza and wounded at least 63,000, around two-thirds of those killed were women and children.

Some 85 percent of Gaza's population of 2.3 million have fled their homes, seeking elusive shelter in the south as Israel continues to strike all parts of the besieged enclave. UN officials say one in four people in Gaza are starving as the ongoing fighting and Israeli restrictions hinder the delivery of humanitarian aid.