Saudi ambassador to US Princess Reema wants to see Israel 'integrated' into 'unified' Middle East
Saudi ambassador to the US Princess Reema bint Bandar Al-Saud said on Saturday that Saudi Arabia envisions Israel as part of an “integrated Middle East” in line with country’s Vision 2030 project, the Jewish Insider reported.
Speaking in conversation with NBC’s Andrea Mitchell at the Aspen Festival of Ideas, Princess Reema said the kingdom wants to see a “thriving Israel” and a “thriving Palestine”.
“Vision 2030 talks about a unified, integrated, thriving Middle East, and last I checked Israel was there … We want a thriving Red Sea economy”, the princess added.
With speculation about a normalisation deal between Saudi Arabia and Israel continuing, the Saudi princess clarified Riyadh's stance, saying: “We don’t say normalisation, we talk about an integrated Middle East, unified [as] a bloc like Europe, where we all have sovereign rights and sovereign states, but we have a shared and common interest.”
When pressed further on the difference between normalisation and “integration”, the Saudi ambassador said “[n]ormalisation is you’re sitting there, and I’m sitting here, and we kind of coexist but separately … integration means our people collaborate, our businesses collaborate, and our youth thrive.”
Netanyahu 'complicating' peace
The princess also added that the policies of the current Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu are “complicating” efforts to reach a broad regional peace. The princess said that Israel’s policies in the West Bank were “so terrible” and called illegal Israeli settlements “problematic”, adding they were “something we are trying to solve”.
She also commented on what she perceives as the broader challenges facing Israel, Palestine and potential peace, saying ““I think the conflict has gone [on] for so long, that these walls have been built psychologically and emotionally that are very hard to overcome”.
Following the Abraham Accords in 2020, which saw Saudi’s close Gulf allies the UAE and Bahrain, along with Sudan and Morocco, agree to normalisation with Israel, Saudi-Israel normalisation was expected to follow, but it has failed to materialise.
The kingdom's de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman has previously said that any normalisation with Israel must come attached to a wider peace between Israelis and Palestinians.