Middle East Monitor / September 18, 2023
As US pushes for Israel-Saudi normalization, Prince Farhan says there’s no solution without independent Palestinian state.
“The two-state solution must return to the forefront,” he said in remarks to state TV.
The comments from the Saudi minister come ahead of the United Nations General Assembly this week in New York, where world leaders will gather for a week of meetings and speeches to the international body.
Earlier this month, a Palestinian delegation travelled to Saudi Arabia for talks to discuss the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) role in a possible normalization deal between Riyadh and Israel.
Palestinian sources with knowledge of the trip told Middle East Eye that PA officials would discuss issues raised by the kingdom without presenting specific demands.
A source told MEE that some elements within the PA are reconsidering their previous approach, in which they rejected similar normalization deals between Israel and several Arab countries that were brokered under the Donald Trump administration.
“They think normalization is happening with or without us, so they may as well benefit from it, at least politically and financially,” the source said.
For months, the US has been leading an effort to strike an agreement between Saudi Arabia and Israel that would see them normalize relations – similar to the agreements struck between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco.
Saudi Arabia has held out on the offer to normalize ties with Israel since 2002, sticking to the Arab Peace Plan, which calls for an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
In exchange for normalizing ties, Saudi Arabia also wants security guarantees from the US, help in developing a civilian nuclear program, and fewer restrictions on US arms sales.
An Arabic media report over the weekend stated that Riyadh was “pausing talks” with Israel due to the far-right government in Israel currently led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The US State Department offered a quick and firm denial of the report on Sunday, saying on X: “Talks are ongoing, and we look forward to further conversations with both parties.”