Saudi Arabia reaffirms its stance on Palestine before normalizing ties with Israel

Saudi Arabia has reiterated its position to the US that it will not establish diplomatic relations with Israel unless a sovereign Palestinian state is recognized on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital. The kingdom also demanded that Israel stop its aggression on the Gaza Strip and withdraw its occupation forces from the Palestinian territory.

The Saudi foreign ministry issued a statement on Wednesday, February 7, 2024, in response to the remarks made by John Kirby, the White House spokesperson for national security, on Tuesday. Kirby had said that the Biden administration has heard encouraging reports that Israel and Saudi Arabia are open to continuing the normalization talks that began under the Trump administration.

The statement said that the kingdom has communicated its firm position to the US administration that there will be no diplomatic relations with Israel unless an independent Palestinian state is recognized on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital. It also said that another condition would be that Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip stops and all Israeli occupation forces withdraw from the Gaza Strip.

Saudi Arabia supports the Arab Peace Initiative

The statement added that Saudi Arabia supports the Arab Peace Initiative, which was proposed by the late King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz in 2002. The initiative calls for the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, the withdrawal of Israel from all the Arab territories occupied in 1967, and the resolution of the issue of Palestinian refugees in accordance with the UN resolutions.

The statement also said that Saudi Arabia believes that the Palestinian cause is the core issue of the Arab and Islamic worlds, and that the kingdom will continue to work with the international community to achieve a just and comprehensive peace in the region.

Saudi Arabia maintains its distance from Israel

Saudi Arabia, which is the birthplace of Islam and the custodian of its two holiest sites, has been reluctant to normalize ties with Israel, unlike some of its Gulf neighbors. In 2020, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed the Abraham Accords with Israel, brokered by the Trump administration, followed by Sudan and Morocco.

Saudi Arabia, however, has not officially recognized Israel, although it has allowed Israeli flights to use its airspace and has held secret meetings with Israeli officials. The kingdom has also been concerned about the regional threats posed by Iran’s nuclear and missile programs, and has sought to balance its relations with the US and its allies.

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