International News

Saudi says ‘no’ to Israel ties without two-state solution

Saudi Arabia will not normalise ties with Israel until the establishment of a state for Palestinians, the kingdom’s top diplomat has said, according to a tweet by the foreign ministry on Friday.

The comments by Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos came as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed normalisation with Saudi Arabia in talks with White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan in Jerusalem on Thursday.

“True normalisation and true stability will only come through giving the Palestinians a state,” Prince Faisal told Bloomberg at the summit.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, is a close partner of the US but it has repeatedly refused to normalise ties with US-ally Israel due to its occupation of Palestinian territories.

The US-brokered Abraham Accords in 2020 saw the kingdom’s neighbours – the UAE and Bahrain – establish full diplomatic ties with Israel.

The deals were widely rejected by Arabs who saw it as a betrayal of the Palestinian cause.

Morocco and Sudan, also normalised ties with Israel, causing uproar in these countries over the continued occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and a devastating siege on Gaza.

Despite its stance, Saudi Arabia has reportedly cooperated with Israel on several issues such as opening Saudi airspace to Israeli aircraft, as well as allowing athletes from Israel to compete in the Gulf state.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly expressed his desire to see Saudi Arabia join the list of states normalising relations with Israel.

In their talks on Thursday, Netanyahu and Sullivan discussed “measures to deepen the Abraham Accords with an emphasis on a breakthrough with Saudi”, the Israeli leader’s office said.

The Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem – both of which were invaded and occupied by Israel in 1967 – were long touted as the basis of a Palestinian state in a “two-state” solution to the long-running conflict.

But that goal has become ever more distant, with the occupied West Bank fragmented by Jewish settlements, which are deemed illegal under international law.

Netanyahu plans to pursue a policy of increased settlement expansion in the West Bank, with ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties in his coalition advocating the annexation of areas of the territory.

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