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22 Jan, 2024 08:12

Saudi Arabia reveals new conditions for ‘normalizing’ Israel ties

IDF attacks on Gaza's civilians are unnecessary and unacceptable, the Saudi foreign minister said
Saudi Arabia reveals new conditions for ‘normalizing’ Israel ties

A normalization of relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel will only be possible if the issue of Palestinian statehood is resolved, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan has said.

The two regional powerhouses have never established diplomatic ties, with Riyadh refusing to recognize the Jewish state as a country. Last year, Saudi and Israeli officials held talks on a potential normalization of bilateral relations under US mediation. However, the incursion into Israel by the Palestinian armed group Hamas on October 7 and the subsequent IDF operation in Gaza reportedly put the process on hold.

During an interview with CNN, which aired on Sunday, bin Farhan was asked if there could be normalized ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel without a credible and irreversible path towards a Palestinian state.

“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,” he replied.

The top Saudi diplomat condemned Israel’s attacks on Gaza, saying that Riyadh was focused on making sure the bloodshed ends.

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

According to the latest data from Gaza’s health ministry, the death toll from the Israeli military operation in the Palestinian enclave has reached 25,105, with 62,681 others wounded. The UN said last month that 85% of Gaza’s population has been internally displaced, while 60% of the enclave’s infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed.

The Hamas raid into Israel last year left around 1,200 people dead and 240 others taken hostage. More than a half of them remain in captivity.

CNN recorded its interview with bin Farhan on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos last week. During the event in the Swiss Alps, the Saudi diplomat also said Riyadh would “certainly” recognize Israel as part of an agreement that would include a two-state solution between the Israelis and Palestinians.

On Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ruled out the possibility of a sovereign Palestinian state, saying that “Israel must maintain security control over all the territory west of the Jordan River.” The country won’t settle for anything, but “absolute victory” in Gaza, he insisted.