Saudi Foreign Minister says no Israel ties until path to a Palestinian state

'Credible, irreversible' process needed to create Palestinian state, Prince Faisal bin Farhan says

Saudi Arabia Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan attends a session during the World Economic Forum in Davos last week. AFP
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Saudi Arabia will not establish diplomatic ties with Israel unless the Palestinian issue is resolved first, the kingdom's Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said in an interview broadcast on Sunday.

“In order for the region to see true peace, to see true stability and to see real integration that delivers economic and social benefits for all of us, including Israel, is through peace, through a credible, irreversible process to a Palestine state,” Prince Faisal told CNN.

“We are fully ready. Not just Saudi Arabia, but as Arab countries, to engage in that conversation. I would hope that the Israelis would be as well, but it's up to them to make that decision.”

When asked to clarify if there could be no normal ties without a path to a credible and irreversible Palestinian state, Prince Faisal said: “That's the only way we're going to get a benefit. So, yes.”

The interview, recorded at last week’s World Economic Forum held in Davos, comes as the civilian death toll in Gaza continues to soar.

The Health Ministry in Gaza said on Sunday that more than 25,000 Palestinians have been killed and more than 62,000 wounded in Israel's assault since the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel.

Israel's air and ground offensive has also destroyed large areas of the small coastal enclave, and displaced most of its 2.3 million population.

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

Asked if Saudi Arabia would be willing to finance post-war reconstruction in Gaza, Prince Faisal said this depended on the prospects for lasting peace.

“As long as we’re able to find a pathway to a solution, a resolution, a pathway that means that we’re not going to be here again in a year or two, then we can talk about anything,” he said.

“But if we are just resetting to the status quo before October 7, in a way that sets us up for another round of this, as we have seen in the past, we’re not interested in that conversation.”

The Palestinians seek a state that would include Gaza, the Israeli-occupied West Bank and annexed East Jerusalem, territories Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war.

Israel views all of Jerusalem as its capital and the West Bank as the historical and biblical heartland of the Jewish people. It has built scores of settlements across both territories that are home to hundreds of thousands of Jewish settlers. The last of several rounds of peace talks broke down nearly 15 years ago.

Updated: January 25, 2024, 7:41 AM