JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia will adhere to the Arab Peace Plan in its relations with Israel, the Kingdom’s foreign minister said on Wednesday.
Peace must be achieved with the Palestinians on the basis of the initiative for any alteration in ties, Prince Faisal bin Farhan said. “Once that is achieved all things are possible.”
The minister said: “When we sponsored the Arab Peace Plan in 2002, we fully envisioned that there would eventually be relations between all Arab states, including Saudi Arabia, and Israel if the condition is met.
“Saudi Arabia remains committed to peace as a strategic option based on the Arab Peace Plan and relevant international resolutions enabling the Palestinian people to establish their own state with East Jerusalem as its capital.”
The UAE and Israel last week established diplomatic relations for the first time. In an agreement brokered by the US, Israel also suspended plans to annex swaths of the occupied West Bank.
Prince Faisal voiced cautious optimism over the agreement. “Any efforts that result in holding back the threat of annexation could be viewed as positive,” he said.
Under the 2002 Saudi-sponsored Arab Peace Plan, Israel would withdraw from Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, in exchange for peace and normalization of relations.
As a leader of the Muslim world, Saudi Arabia would never forsake the Palestinians and their struggle for an independent state side by side with Israel, Saudi political analyst and international relations scholar Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri told Arab News.
“That has always been Saudi Arabia’s position and it remains the Saudi position today. Palestinians are, were, and will always be very dear to us. We will always stand by them.”
In other developments, Sudanese Foreign Ministry spokesman Haider Badawi was fired on Wednesday for saying Sudan could be next to normalize relations with Israel. The two countries are technically at war.
“The question of relations with the Israelis has never been discussed by the Sudanese government,” Foreign Minister Omar Qamareddin said. Badawi had “astonished us because he is not mandated to comment on this subject.”
In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin faces a backlash from hardline settlers angry at his suspension of annexation. “He deceived us, defrauded us, duped us,” said settlers’ leader David Elhayani.