Saudis firmly reject US optimism on relations with Israel, make demands

Although Saudi Arabia previously said a Palestinian State is a condition for normalization, pre-1967 borders and ‘East Jerusalem’ as capital are more specific demands. 

By Vered Weiss, World Israel News

US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby stated that Saudi Arabia was going ahead with steps to normalize relations with Israel, independent of the push for a Gaza ceasefire and a Palestinian State. 

Hours after that, Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry firmly rejected this position and said the issue of Palestinian statehood and a cessation of the war were pre-requisites to normalization.

Kirby had sounded optimistic about the possibility of normalization of relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel going ahead and pointed to the “positive” talks that went on between the two countries prior to October 7th.

However, early Wednesday the Saudi Foreign Ministry released a statement that said, “Regarding the discussions between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States of America on the Arab-Israeli peace process, and in light of what has been attributed to the US National Security [Council] spokesperson, the ministry of foreign affairs affirms that the position of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has always been steadfast on the Palestinian issue and the necessity that the brotherly Palestinian people obtain their legitimate rights.”

It continued, “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 as its capital, and that the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip stops and all Israeli occupation forces withdraw from the Gaza Strip.”

Although the requirement for a Palestinian state was mentioned by the Saudi’s prior to the war, the more recent statement is the most specific that Riyadh has stated thus far in outlining what is required, namely, a retreat to pre-1967 lines and East Jerusalem as the capital.

However, the statement didn’t indicate that Israel would have to be the one to recognize the Palestinian State, and left the issue open to the UN Security Council.

“The kingdom reiterates its call to the permanent members of the UN Security Council that have not yet recognized the Palestinian state, to expedite the recognition of the Palestinian state.”