Saudi FM says ties with Israel will benefit region

Published April 3, 2021
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan speaks during a news conference in Riyadh on March 22. — AP/File
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan speaks during a news conference in Riyadh on March 22. — AP/File

RIYADH: Normalisation with Israel would bring “tremendous benefit” to the Middle East region, the Saudi foreign minister said on Friday. But such an accord would depend on progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, he added.

Under the “Abraham Accords” brokered by former US president Donald Trump last year, four Arab countries -- the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan -- agreed to normalise ties with the Jewish state.

But Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said on Thursday that any deal with Saudi Arabia was “very much dependent on progress with the peace process”.

“I think normalising Israel’s status within the region would bring tremendous benefit to the region as a whole,” he said during an interview with CNN.

“It would be extremely helpful both economically but also socially and from a security perspective.”

Saudi Arabia has repeatedly affirmed its decades-old policy of not establishing formal ties with Israel until a deal is reached to resolve the conflict with the Palestinians.

But mutual concern over Iran has gradually brought Israel and Gulf countries closer, and Riyadh has quietly been building relations with the Jewish state for several years.

Reports in November that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held secret talks in Saudi Arabia fuelled speculation that a normalisation accord could be in the making. Riyadh, however, denied the meeting had taken place.

Published in Dawn, April 3rd, 2021

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