Saudi FM says Palestinian state before Israel normalization

Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud says no change in Riyadh's position toward establishing diplomatic ties with Jewish state despite Biden administration's efforts to advance the process

A Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital is a prerequisite for Saudi Arabia normalizing ties with Israel, the Gulf country's foreign minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud said in an interview with Saudi news channel Al-Hadath.

Although supportive of the Abraham Accords that established diplomatic ties between Israel and four Arab countries, the kingdom has maintained that a resolution to the Palestinian issue must happen before joining the pact.

Saudi Arabia has recently made positive moves toward the Jewish state, including allowing the use of its airspace for commercial flights from Tel Aviv to Dubai and Abu Dhabi, significantly shortening travel time between the two countries.

The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed the Abraham Accords with Israel at a White House ceremony in September 2020. Morocco and Sudan later followed suit.

In an interview last year with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Faisal said that normalization with Israel would take place eventually, "but we also need to have a Palestinian state and we need to have a Palestinian and Israeli peace plan."

Despite the comments by Saudi Arabia's top diplomat, it was reported that the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden is discussing Israel normalization with the Saudis.

French President Emmanuel Macron, right, greets Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud at the La Nuvola conference center for the G20 summit in Rome, October 30, 2021

White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan reportedly raised the issue last month in Riyadh during a meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS).

The report stated that MBS did not immediately reject the proposal to establish diplomatic ties with Israel, listing the steps needed to make the move, including improving the relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia.

Other countries mentioned as possible candidates to next join the Abraham Accords include Comoros, Tunisia, Oman, Qatar and Malaysia, although Qatar's foreign minister earlier this month ruled out establishing diplomatic ties with Israel as long as the "occupation of Arab lands" continues.