Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud hinted on Thursday that Israeli-Saudi normalization is unlikely 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, according to the Reuters news agency.
The comments come amid speculation Saudi Arabia could follow in the footsteps of the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, which on September 15 signed agreements to establish formal ties with Israel.
On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met the Saudi Foreign Minister and encouraged Saudi Arabia to recognize Israel.
Pompeo said the agreement with the UAE and Bahrain "contributed greatly to our shared goals for regional peace and security."
"We hope Saudi Arabia will consider normalizing its relationships as well. We want to thank them for the assistance they've had in the success of the Abraham Accords so far," he added.
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.
The speculation about Saudi Arabia possibly normalizing ties with Israel was further fueled last week, when Saudi Arabia’s former intelligence chief and ambassador to the United States offered sharp criticism of the Palestinian Authority.
Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz said that the kingdom must focus on its own interests and security while supporting the Palestinian cause.
“We are at a stage in which rather than being concerned with how to face the Israeli challenges in order to serve the Palestinian cause, we have to pay attention to our national security and interests,” he said.
Prince Bandar slammed the leadership of the Palestinian Authority for criticizing the decision of some Gulf states to normalize ties with Israel.
“The Palestinian cause is a just cause but its advocates are failures, and the Israeli cause is unjust but its advocates have proven to be successful. That sums up the events of the last 70 or 75 years,” he was quoted as having said.
“There is something that successive Palestinian leadership historically share in common: they always bet on the losing side, and that comes at a price,” he added.