SAUDI Arabia is ready to normalise relations with Israel based on the 2002 Arab initiative for peace, Riyadh’s permanent representative to the United Nations said on Tuesday.

In an interview with Arab News, Abdallah Al Mouallimi said Riyadh was committed to the 2002 proposal, which called for the end of Israeli occupation over all Arab territories taken in the 1967 war and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital in return for normalisation of ties.

“The official and the latest Saudi position is that we are prepared to normalise relations with Israel as soon as Israel implements the elements of the Saudi peace initiative presented in 2002,” Al Mouallimi said.

He added that once Israel implemented the initiative, it would have recognition “not only from Saudi Arabia but also the entire Muslim world — all 57 countries of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation”.

“Time does not change right or wrong. The Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories is wrong no matter how long it lasts,” the diplomat said.

Israeli media reported last month that a delegation of 20 American Jewish leaders had visited Saudi Arabia and met senior officials there, including ministers and senior representatives of the royal house, in an effort to review possibilities of establishing ties between Riyadh and Tel Aviv.

Saudi Arabia has been repeatedly expressing its commitment to the parameters for peace with Israel spelt out in the 2002 Arab Initiative.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 war and annexed the entire city in 1980 in a move that has never been recognised by the international community.

Published in Dawn, December 16th, 2021

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