Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud on Monday told State TV there will be “no solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict without an independent Palestinian state,” and stressed: “The two-state solution must return to the forefront.”
Saudi Arabia, the European Union, the Arab League, Egypt, and Jordan held a special gathering on Monday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in an attempt to reinvigorate the peace process between Israel and the PA and advance the two-state solution. The foreign ministers of these countries participated in the meeting, without representatives from Israel or the PA.
On Monday, The Jewish Press reported that Israel and the US rejected a report that the Saudis had frozen normalization talks as long as the Netanyahu government maintains its hard line regarding a Palestinian State. It’s going to be difficult to deny the Saudi FM’s statement, seeing as it was made on state TV and all.
Earlier in September, a PA delegation visited Saudi Arabia to make its case for linking normalization with Israel to statehood. Unlike previous occasions, this time, the delegation was polite, did not make angry public accusations against the Kingdom for abandoning the PA Arabs, and didn’t make demands. They reportedly only stressed that the normalization with Israel would mean giving up the last remaining leverage the Arabs have to bring on the evacuation of the Jewish settlements and their replacement with Arab towns and villages, as per the spirit of the Oslo Accords.
In 2002, the Saudis launched the Arab Peace Plan, a.k.a. the Saudi Initiative, that was endorsed by the Arab League in 2002, 2007, and 2017, offering normalization of relations between the entire Arab world and Israel, in return for Israel’s full withdrawal from all the territories it acquired in 1967, including the “West Bank,” Gaza, the Golan Heights, and Lebanon; as well as a “just settlement” of the refugee problem based on UN Resolution 194––meaning, essentially the great-grandchildren of Arabs who fled the country in 1948 will either return to their great-grandparents’ homes or be compensated monetarily; and the establishment of a Palestinian state with eastern Jerusalem as its capital.
There is no reason to think the Saudis want anything less as a condition for normalization, in addition to US security guarantees and nuclear technology.
The following may or may not be related to the FM’s statement: on Monday, the Saudi Foreign Ministry declared: “Hundreds of Jewish extremists yesterday stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam located in the Old City of occupied Jerusalem, as they marked the Jewish New Year, holding religious rituals, one of them being blowing the shofar in clear violation of the decades-long status quo that says the entire 36-acre Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, also known as Al Haram Al Sharif or noble sanctuary, is a purely Muslim holy place where only Muslims can hold prayers and religious rituals.”
Looks normal enough to me.