Saudi FM: Deal with Israel will be ‘extremely helpful’ for region

Saudi FM says normalisation of relations with Israel would bring tremendous benefits, but the move depends on the progress of the peace process.

Saudi Arabia's foreign minister says the kingdom envisages normalisation of ties with Israel in exchange for the creation of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borderlines [File: Ahmed Yosri/Reuters]

A normalisation deal between Saudi Arabia and Israel would benefit the region, the kingdom’s foreign minister has said, adding that a potential deal “depends to a large extent on the progress of the peace process”.

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, during an interview on Thursday, added that “the normalisation of Israel’s status within the region would bring tremendous benefits to the region as a whole”.

“It would be extremely helpful economically, socially and from a security perspective,” he said in the interview with CNN, adding that it would be possible only if a Palestinian state within 1967 borders was delivered.

Saudi Arabia has previously made similar comments, saying it would only normalise ties with Israel within a plan that would deliver a sovereign state to Palestinians.

“What we need to make happen is a peace deal that delivers a Palestinian state with dignity and with a workable sovereignty that Palestinians can accept,” Prince Faisal had said in December last year.

He added at the time that the normalisation of ties with Israel has long been part of Saudi Arabia’s vision, saying that the kingdom envisaged a move in exchange for the creation of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borderlines.

In September last year, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed the so-called Abraham Accords to normalise ties with Israel. Sudan and Morocco have since followed suit.

The deals were the first since Israel’s recognition by Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.

Last year’s agreements, brokered by former US President Donald Trump’s administration, included a freeze by Israel on planned annexation of Palestinian land.

Palestinian officials condemned the normalisation as “a stab in the back of the Palestinian cause and the Palestinian people”.

A two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict closely reflects the Arab Peace Initiative, which was proposed by Saudi Arabia in 2002.

The initiative called for normalised 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.

The initiative was re-endorsed over the years by the Arab League but never implemented, as Israel continued its occupation and settlement expansion in the West Bank.

Source: Al Jazeera