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Saudi Arabia: No normalization with Israel before permanent Gaza truce

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

Saudi Arabia says it will not begin diplomatic relations with Israel before the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, a permanent ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and a full withdrawal of Israeli troops from the besieged territory.

In a statement on Wednesday, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry said Riyadh had made it clear to the United States that without the fulfillment of these conditions, no normalization with Israel will take place.  

“The kingdom has communicated its firm position to the US administration that there will be no diplomatic relations with Israel unless an independent Palestinian state is recognized on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem [al-Quds] as its capital, and that the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip stops and all Israeli occupation forces withdraw from the Gaza Strip,” the ministry stated.

“Saudi Arabia has always been steadfast on the Palestinian issue and the necessity that the brotherly Palestinian people obtain their legitimate rights.”

Riyadh also called on the United Nations Security Council to expedite the recognition of the Palestinian state “so that the Palestinian people can obtain their legitimate rights and so that a comprehensive and just peace is achieved for all.”

The statement was released hours after White House National Security Council coordinator John Kirby claimed that Washington had received “positive feedback” that Riyadh and Tel Aviv were purportedly pushing forward normalization discussions separately from talks on a Gaza ceasefire.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh on Monday. A day later in the Qatari capital of Doha, Blinken claimed “the crown prince reiterated Saudi Arabia’s strong interest in pursuing” normalization.

Back in September, bin Salman said Riyadh and Tel Aviv were getting closer to normalization. However, after Israel launched its brutal hostilities in Gaza a month later, Saudi Arabia reportedly halted discussions on a deal with the occupying regime.

Since the beginning of the war, Saudi officials have said any such deal will be materialized only after a permanent ceasefire in the densely-populated Palestinian territory comes into effect and the rights of Palestinians are secured.

Separately on Wednesday, the Palestinian Authority (PA), led by President Mahmud Abbas, thanked Saudi Arabia for its stance on the issue of normalization with Israel, Palestine's official WAFA news agency reported.

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