Saudi King reaffirms support for Palestinian state

Saudi King Salman says Kingdom supports efforts to bring peace to the region through talks between Israelis and Palestinians.

Elad Benari ,

Donald Trump and Saudi King Salman
Donald Trump and Saudi King Salman
Reuters

Saudi King Salman said on Wednesday the Kingdom supports efforts to bring peace to the region through negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis to reach a fair and permanent agreement, Arab News reports.

Speaking to the Saudi Shura Council, the King added that Saudi Arabia supports the Palestinian people’s right to have an independent state with eastern Jerusalem as its capital.

On the topic of Iran, King Salman reaffirmed the seriousness of the Iranian regime’s malign regional influence, and added that Iran was interfering in the countries of the region, supported terrorism and extremism as well fueling sectarianism.

“The kingdom stresses the dangers of Iran’s regional project, its interference in other countries, its fostering of terrorism, its fanning the flames of sectarianism ... in its efforts to possess weapons of mass destruction,” he was quoted as having said.

The King called on the international community to take a firm stand toward the Iranian regime, and called for a radical solution to be found to ensure that Iran does not develop nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

King Salman also said the Iranian-backed Houthi militia in Yemen continued to violate international laws through its actions in the country.

The King’s comments come amid continued speculation that Saudi Arabia would normalize ties with Israel.

US President Donald Trump has predicted on several occasions that Saudi Arabia would forge ties with Israel, following in the footsteps of the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently met Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud and encouraged Saudi Arabia to recognize Israel.

While Saudi Arabia has not reached any normalization agreement with Israel, recent reports indicated that the Kingdom was working behind the scenes and urged the UAE and Bahrain to reach their respective deals with the Jewish state.

Saudi officials have continuously adopted a line similar to that of the Saudi King, and have stressed that ties with Israel are conditional on the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Prince Faisal recently appeared to pour cold water on the prospects of Saudi-Israeli normalization taking place any time soon.

“I believe that the focus now needs to be on getting the Palestinians and the Israelis back to the negotiating table. In the end, the only thing that can deliver lasting peace and lasting stability is an agreement between the Palestinians and the Israelis,” the Saudi minister said in a virtual appearance at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy think tank.

As for Iran, Saudi Arabia has been an enthusiastic backer of Trump's "maximum pressure" of tough sanctions on its regional rival.

During the negotiations between Iran and world powers on the 2015 nuclear deal, Saudi Arabia and other major Sunni states expressed concern over a deal which would allow Iran to produce nuclear weapons – a position which placed them very close to Israel’s position on the matter.

Ultimately, however, Saudi Arabia's government announced that it welcomed the deal.

US President-elect Joe Biden has said he would return to the 2015 nuclear deal between world powers and Tehran, which was negotiated when Biden was vice president in Barack Obama's administration.



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