Saudi Arabia says a Palestinian state is key to ties with Israel

Prince Faisal bin Farhan said the US continues to be Saudi Arabia’s top security partner, even as ties warm with China. PHOTO: AFP

DAVOS - Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister said an agreement to create a Palestinian state would be a precondition for the biggest Arab economy to establish formal diplomatic ties with Israel.

“We have said consistently that we believe normalisation with Israel is something that is very much in the interest of the region,” Prince Faisal bin Farhan said on a Bloomberg TV interview in Davos, Switzerland on Thursday.

“However, true normalisation and true stability will only come through giving the Palestinians hope, through giving the Palestinians dignity. That requires giving the Palestinians a state, and that’s the priority,” he said. 

Neighbours of the kingdom including the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain formalised relationships with Israel in 2020 under a US-brokered agreement, known as the Abraham Accords.

Israel has since been looking to expand on that breakthrough with other Arab countries, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed ways to improve relations with Saudi Arabia with US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan earlier on Thursday.

The Palestine conflict has long been a sticking point, and the situation is only likely to worsen after an Israeli right-wing coalition won the 2022 elections.

The coalition partners in Mr Netanyahu’s new government seek Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank and reject a Palestinian state.

Prince Faisal said the US continues to be Saudi Arabia’s top security partner, even as ties warm between the kingdom and China. 

The US is “the most active security partner in the region”, he said, though “China continues to be an important trading partner.”

On Syria, the foreign minister said countries in the region should work together to find a “political solution” to an ongoing 12-year civil war.

“We are working with our partners to figure out a way to engage with the government in Damascus in a way that delivers tangible movements toward a political resolution,” he said. “That’s going to take some work.”

Prince Faisal added that an end to the Russia-Ukraine war could also be achieved “through negotiation”. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is engaging with Russia over keeping the oil price “relatively stable”, he said. BLOOMBERG

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