Saudi Arabia names conditions for Israel deal

Aprilia Rine

Saudi Arabia names conditions for Israel deal

The kingdom wants an independent Palestinian state and an end to “aggression” against Gaza

Saudi Arabia will not establish formal ties with Israel until it recognizes an independent Palestinian state and ceases its “aggression” against Gaza, the Foreign Ministry in Riyadh has said.

In a statement on Wednesday, the ministry revealed it had informed the US “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, and that the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip stops and all Israeli occupation forces withdraw from the Gaza Strip.”

“The Kingdom reiterates its call to the permanent members of the UN Security Council…to expedite the recognition of the Palestinian state,” the ministry continued, declaring that this would help ensure “that a comprehensive and just peace is achieved for all.”

READ MORE: Hamas proposes three-stage Gaza ceasefire plan – Reuters

The statement did not specify whether Israel must also recognize a Palestinian state in order for a deal with Saudi Arabia to go ahead.

While the US is reportedly considering whether to recognize Palestinian statehood, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has refused to entertain the idea. Instead, he has insisted on “full Israeli security control over the entire area west of Jordan,” a description that includes land considered Palestinian under the 1967 borders.

The term “1967 borders” refers to Israel’s frontiers as they stood before the Six-Day War. A return to these lines would see Gaza expand, while Israel would relinquish its claims to the West Bank, Golan Heights, and East Jerusalem, and would withdraw its security forces and settlers from these areas.

The Saudi statement came a day after White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters that talks on a normalization deal between Saudi Arabia and Israel were “ongoing,” and that the US had received “positive feedback from both sides.” 

Saudi Arabia did not join its neighbors, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, in recognizing Israel under the Abraham Accords, brokered by former US President Donald Trump in 2020. 

Riyadh and West Jerusalem were on the cusp of a deal before the Israel-Hamas war broke out in October, with Washington offering the Saudis a defense pact with the US in exchange for recognizing the Jewish state. However, Saudi officials suspended negotiations in response to Israel’s bombing of Gaza, and reports at the time suggested that the kingdom would insist that any future deal include significant concessions to the Palestinians from the Israeli side.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh on Tuesday. A readout of the meeting from the US State Department made no mention of an independent Palestinian state. Instead, it said the pair had discussed the need for “an enduring end to the crisis in Gaza that provides lasting peace and security for Israelis and Palestinians alike.” 

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