Since the signing of the Abrahamic Agreements, Israel has been interested in reaching normalization with one of the most influential Arab states, Saudi Arabia, but Saudi Foreign Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, who attended the Security Conference in Munich, on Sunday clarified that his country conditions a rapprochement on an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, or at least that the parties discuss a workable plan that can be implemented.
In an interview he gave Maariv (בכיר סעודי חושף בראיון למעריב: התנאי של המדינה החשובה במפרץ לנורמליזציה), Bin Farhan said: “The integration of Israel in the region will be a huge benefit not only for Israel itself but for the entire region, but without addressing the core problems of the Palestinian people and granting respect and sovereignty to the Palestinian nation through the establishment of a Palestinian state, the instability and risks to Israel’s security and the security of the entire region will continue. In such a situation we would be strengthening the most extreme voices in the region.”
This may be a good time to discuss the Saudis recognizing the Huthi reign in Yemen, to grant them respect and sovereignty…
“The priority now is to find an arrangement so that the Israelis and Palestinians sit together and have a peace process that can be worked out,” the Foreign Minister said, almost implying that the optics, in this case, are more important than the content. “This will make it easier for all the countries that don’t yet have relations with Israel.” However, “For us, this will happen when a just solution is found to the Palestinian issue,” he stressed.
Regarding the Iran deal, according to Ma’ariv, the Saudis are in complete agreement with Israel and also insist that separate negotiations must be launched regarding everything else Iran is wreaking on the region and the world.
Bin Farhan told The Arab Weekly on Sunday that the Kingdom wants to schedule a fifth round of direct talks with Iran despite a “lack of substantive progress” so far, and urged Tehran to change its behavior in the region. As far as Saudi Arabia is concerned, restoring the 2015 deal should be “a starting point, not an endpoint.”
Saudi Arabia and Iran severed diplomatic ties in 2016, in 2021 engaged in talks with the Islamic Republic, hosted by Iraq. This month, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said he was ready for more talks if the Saudis were willing to hold them in an atmosphere of mutual understanding and respect.
Everybody wants respect in the Middle East, it turns out.