IN an interview, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud has referred to tremendous benefits to the region in case of normalization of ties between the Kingdom and Israel but added that such a deal depends, to a large extent, on the progress of the peace process.
He stated that normalization would be extremely helpful economically, socially and from a security perspective but it would be possible only if a Palestinian State within 1967 borders was delivered.
The statement is reassuring as it comes in the wake of decisions by more and more Arab countries to sign peace deals or establish diplomatic relations with the Jewish State and rumours being spread by some vested interests that Saudi Arabia too might follow the suit.
These moves were part of a broader diplomatic push by former US President Donald Trump and his Administration that launched the so-called Middle East peace plan which was categorically rejected by the Palestinians as it was carved out mainly to safeguard interests of Israel at the cost of Palestinians.
While many Arab States say they remain committed to the Arab Peace Initiative – which calls for Israel’s complete withdrawal from the Palestinian territories occupied after 1967 in exchange for peace and the full normalization of relations – speculations have been rife that some countries in the region would soon join those that are moving fast towards full normalization of ties.
Attempts were also made to pressurize Saudi Arabia to follow the suit but Riyadh has adopted a clear position on the issue – no normalization of relations with Israel outside of the framework of the Arab Peace Initiative.
This position was upheld by Saudi King Salman when former US President Trump made a phone call to him to persuade Saudi leadership to review its position vis-à-vis relations with Israel.
The King was reported to have emphasized that there should be a ‘lasting and fair’ solution to the longstanding conflict in the Middle-East.
The Kingdom proved its peace credentials in proposing an Arab Peace Initiative in 2002 that called for normalized relations between Israel and other Arab States in exchange for a full withdrawal by Israel from lands it occupied in the 1967 War, including the occupied regions: Golan Heights, East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
This is just and fair approach reflecting aspirations of Palestinians and also the Muslim Ummah.
We hope the leadership of the Kingdom would continue to play a lead role in efforts aimed at safeguarding the rights and interests of Muslims all over the world.