PA: Saudis won't normalize ties with Israel without peace

PA official says Abbas was told by Saudi King there will be no normalization of ties with Israel before Israel-PA peace deal is reached.

Elad Benari,

Riyad Al-Maliki
Riyad Al-Maliki
Issam Rimawi/Flash 90

Saudi Arabia told Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas that it will not normalize relations with Israel before a peace agreement is reached between Israel and the PA, the PA official in charge of foreign affairs, Riyad Malki, said on Tuesday.

Malki, who was quoted by the PA's Wafa news agency, said Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz made that clear to Abbas during their meeting in Riyadh last week.

Malki told the president of the Swedish parliament and his delegation, who he met at his office in Ramallah, that Saudi Arabia fully supports Palestinian efforts to reach a settlement based on international resolutions.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar reported that the Saudi government is weighing the possible normalization of relations with Israel ahead of a planned Middle East peace program by the Trump administration which aims to not only secure a final status agreement between Israel and the PA, but lead to recognition of the Jewish state by the larger Arab world.

The newspaper's report was based on a letter it alleged was sent from Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir to the kingdom’s Defense Minister and Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman.

In the letter, Adel al-Jubeir urges the crown prince to accept the Trump administration’s efforts to normalize relations between Israel and the Arab world, listing the potential benefits of such a dramatic shift in Saudi policy.

There have been many reports in recent years about cooperation between Israel and Saudi Arabia, but most of those have originated from Iran, Saudi Arabia's regional rival, which claimed that the Israelis and the Saudis had teamed up to sabotage its nuclear program.

Recent reports indicated that a senior member of the Saudi royal family, perhaps even the crown prince himself, held high-level talks with Israeli officials during a clandestine trip to the Jewish state.

Saudi Arabia vehemently denied the reports, saying they were unfounded.

Israeli officials never confirmed the reports of the Saudi prince's visit, though those appeared a day after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu claimed that relations between Israel and the Arab world were better than ever before in Israel’s history.

Netanyahu also said during a recent visit to London that the threat posed by Iran to its Middle Eastern neighbors was driving them into hitherto unthinkable alliances with Israel.

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