Saudi Arabia clears its stand on UAE, Israel normalization

Berlin: Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister on Wednesday cautiously welcomed an agreement between its close ally the United Arab Emirates and Israel to establish full ties and exchange embassies.

Prince Faisal bin Farhan said the deal, which also halted unilateral annexation by Israel of West Bank territory sought by the Palestinians, could be viewed as positive.

Peace agreement

But he refrained from outright backing the move and stressed Saudi Arabia is open to establishing similar relations on condition that a peace agreement is reached between Israel and the Palestinians.

His remarks during a news conference with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas were the first public comment by Saudi Arabia on

Thursday’s surprise announcement by US President Donald Trump that his administration helped broker the UAE-Israel agreement.

Bahrain, Oman, Egypt

Bahrain, Oman and Egypt issued official statements welcoming the agreement. The kingdom did not issue similar statements and did not respond to requests for comment until Wednesday’s news conference in Berlin.

The UAE framed its agreement as a successful measure that halted Israeli plans to annex West Bank territory. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, however, has said the suspension is only temporary.

The Palestinians have issued scathing statements saying the UAE undermined Arab consensus and describing the move as a betrayal of Jerusalem, Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Palestinian cause.” Saudi Arabia, like other Arab Gulf states, has built quiet ties with Israel over the years, in part because of shared concerns over Iran and its policies in the region.

Arab Peace Initiative

Prince Faisal reiterated during the press conference the kingdom’s long-stated public stance of support for the Arab Peace Initiative sponsored by Saudi Arabia in 2002 which promises Israel full ties with Arab states if a peace settlement is reached with the Palestinians.

Conditions for that, however, must be based on internationally recognized parameters, he said.

Once that is achieved, all things are possible,” Prince Faisal said.

He reiterated the kingdom’s long-held public stance that a future Palestinian state should include east Jerusalem as its capital.

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