Saudi Foreign Minister: We have no relations with Israel

Saudi Foreign Minister denies reports his country is getting closer to Israel.

Elad Benari,

Adel Al-Jubeir
Adel Al-Jubeir
Reuters

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir denied on Monday that his country is getting closer to Israel.

His comments came in an interview with the Egyptian CBC television network and were translated by Yediot Aharonot.

"There are no relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel. There is the Arab peace initiative that constitutes the road map to reach peace and to establish normal relations between Israel and the Arab states," said Jubeir.

"Saudi Arabia is committed to the Arab peace initiative. When there will be peace, there will be normal relations between Israel and all the Arab states, which is what the Arab peace initiative determined. This is what all the Arab states have ratified, from the Arab League summit in Beirut in 2002 all the way to the Arab League summit in Amman earlier this year," he stressed.

The Arab peace initiative says that 22 Arab countries will normalize ties with Israel in return for an Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria.

Israel to date has rejected the plan due to the fact that it calls for Israel to accept the so-called "right of return" for millions of descendants of Arabs who fled pre-state Israel, effectively bringing an end to the Jewish state.

Jubeir has in the past rejected Israel’s demand that the initiative be "updated" to reflect the changes that have occurred in the Middle East over the past several years.

"We and the rest of the world believe that the Arab peace initiative is the best option to resolve the conflict and we hope that this wisdom prevails in Israel too and that the Israelis would accept this initiative," he said last year.

His comments on Monday follow several recent reports which hinted that Saudi Arabia and Israel are getting closer.

The Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar reported last week 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 Palestinian Authority, but lead to recognition of the Jewish state by the larger Arab world.

On Thursday, the British Daily Mail newspaper reported that Saudi King Salman plans to step down and announce his son as his successor within a week. The report said that once the Crown Prince becomes king, he would enlist the help of the Israeli military to crush Hezbollah, Iran's proxy in Lebanon.

The report cited an unnamed Saudi source and was not officially confirmed.

Also on Thursday, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot gave a rare interview to Elaph, a Saudi newspaper based in London, in which he called for a new regional coalition to counter Iran's growing influence and threats in the Middle East.

And, on Sunday, Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz revealed that Israel has covert ties with "many" Arab and Muslim states, but would not specify which states.




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