No plans for Saudi-Israel meeting: Foreign minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan

Saudi Arabia's foreign minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said there were no plans for a meeting between Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (SPA/File Photo)
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Updated 13 February 2020

No plans for Saudi-Israel meeting: Foreign minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan

  • Prince Faisal bin Farhan reiterated Saudi position on Trump's peace plan
  • FM also said Saudi Arabia's policy toward Palestine remained "firm"

LONDON: There are no plans for Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to meet Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Kingdom's foreign minister said Thursday.

Speaking to Al-Arabiya English, Prince Faisal bin Farhan also said Saudi Arabia's policy toward Palestine remained "firm."

Talking about media speculation in Israel that Netanyahu sought a meeting with the Saudi crown prince following President Donald Trump's Middle East peace plan announcement, Prince Faisal said: “There is no meeting planned between Saudi Arabia and Israel. Saudi Arabia’s policy has been very clear since the beginning of this conflict. There are no relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel and the Kingdom stands firmly behind Palestine."

He also talked about Sudan, after Netanyahu spoke to the head of the Sudan Transitional Sovereign Council in Uganda on Feb. 3, saying: “Sudan is a sovereign nation. They can assess their own sovereign interests.”

The foreign minister reiterated the Saudi position on the peace plan, which called for talks between the two side to ensure that the "legitimate rights of the Palestinian people" were observed.

Prince Faisal told Al-Arabiya English: “As we have said in the past, Saudi Arabia along with the other members of the Arab league has always shown a willingness to normalize relations with Israel if there is a just and fair settlement that is agreed by both Palestine and Israel. Short of that, Saudi policy will remain steadfast.

“The policy of Saudi Arabia towards Palestine is firm. Saudi Arabia welcomes any attempt to resolve the Middle East crisis. This has nothing to do with Saudi Arabia’s commitment towards the issue.”

The foreign minister was asked if the Kingdom had shared interests with Israel on policy toward Iran, to which he responded: “It is not difficult to find countries that have issues with Iran in the Arab world, the European Union, or the United States. Any overlap in interests would not be unique to Saudi Arabia.”


Saudi Arabia eases coronavirus lockdown restrictions

Updated 23 min 52 sec ago

Saudi Arabia eases coronavirus lockdown restrictions

  • Curfew to be eased on Sunday, except in Makkah, as domestic travel permitted
  • All curfews in Saudi Arabia to be lifted by June 20

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia announced the easing of restrictions that has halted much of the activity in the country due to the coronavirus pandemic.

As of Sunday 31, May, the curfew on all areas of the Kingdom will be eased, except Makkah. Movement in cities and within the regions of the country will again be permitted, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Tuesday.

The easing will mean the Kingdom’s 24-hour lockdown is relaxed with a curfew from 3 p.m to 6 a.m until Sunday, after which the hours will change to 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.. Makkah will remain under a full 24-hour lockdown.

On June 21, all curfews in the Kingdom will be lifted and prayers at Makkah’s mosque will be permitted.

Before then, social distancing guidelines must continue to be adhered to and gatherings of more than 50 people will continue to be banned.

Authorities have also allowed the attendance at ministries, government agencies and private sector companies, and the return of their office activities.

Some economic and commercial activities will also be allowed to take place including those at wholesale and retail shops, as well as malls. Cafes will be permitted to operate once more.

However, all job sectors where social distancing rules are harder to achieve such as beauty salons, barbershops, sports and health clubs, recreational centers and cinemas will remain closed.

Umrah pilgrimage and international flights will continue to be suspended until further notice.

The new rules are subject to constant evaluation at the health ministry and can be changed if the situation warrants it.

Earlier, Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah, the health minister, said: “The phases start gradually until we return to normalcy, with its new concept based on social distancing.” 

He added that the precautionary steps taken by the Kingdom early in the outbreak helped to limit the spread of the virus. 

Now, he said, the ministry has developed a plan for the next phase that relies on two main factors: The capacity of the health care system to cope with critical cases, and the expansion of testing to identify new infections as soon as possible.

Reassuring the Saudi nation on Monday, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said: “The bad conditions will pass, God willing, and we are heading toward the good, God willing.” 

The Kingdom recorded 2,235 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, taking the total to 74,795, and the death toll rose by nine to 399. Worldwide the virus has infected more than 5.5 million people and killed nearly 350,000.