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Tuesday, June 25, 2024  
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No normal Israel ties without path to Palestinian state: Saudi foreign minister

'“What we are seeing is the Israelis are crushing Gaza, which has to stop,' says Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud
Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud speaks during a meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, at the State Department, in Washington, US on October 14. Reuters
Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud speaks during a meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, at the State Department, in Washington, US on October 14. Reuters

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister said there can be no normalisation of ties with Israel without resolving the Palestinian issue, he told CNN in an interview that aired on Sunday.

Asked if there could be no normal ties without a path to a credible and irreversible Palestinian state, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud told CNN‘s Fareed Zakaria: “That’s the only way we’re going to get the benefit. So, yes, because we need stability and only stability will come through the resolving the Palestinian issue.“

The foreign minister’s remarks were part of an interview originally taped on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum held last week in Davos, Switzerland, and aired Sunday on CNN.

De-escalation of the conflict in Gaza and halting civilian deaths is a key focus of Saudi Arabia, the minister said.

“What we are seeing is the Israelis are crushing Gaza, the civilian population of Gaza,” he said. “This is completely unnecessary, completely unacceptable and has to stop.”

The local health ministry in Gaza says more than 25,000 Palestinians have been killed and more than 62,000 wounded in Israel’s assault on the region since an Oct 7 attack on Israel by the Palestinian group.

Securing a normalisation deal with Saudi Arabia would be the grand prize for Israel after it established diplomatic ties with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco, and could transform the geopolitics of the Middle East.

The kingdom, the most powerful country in the Arab world and home to the most sacred sites in Islam, wields considerable religious clout across the globe.

After the eruption of conflict last October between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas that rules Gaza, Saudi Arabia put on ice US-backed plans for the kingdom to normalise ties with Israel, two sources familiar with Riyadh’s thinking said, in a swift reordering of its diplomatic priorities.

The two sources had earlier told Reuters there would be some delay in the US-backed talks on normalisation of Saudi-Israel ties, which is seen as a key step for the kingdom to secure what it considers the real prize of a US defence pact in exchange.

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Before Oct 7, when Hamas fighters launched an attack on southern Israel, both Israeli and Saudi leaders had signalled they were moving steadily towards establishing diplomatic relations that could have reshaped the Middle East.

The Palestinians want a state in territories captured by Israel in a 1967 war, with East Jerusalem as their capital. US-sponsored negotiations with Israel on achieving that stalled more than a decade ago.

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