WASHINGTON (AA) – Saudi Arabia is interested in normalizing ties with Israel after the war in the Gaza Strip, but any deal must lead to the creation of a Palestinian state, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the UK said Tuesday.
A normalization deal was “close,” but Saudi Arabia paused US-brokered talks after Oct. 7, Prince Khalid bin Bandar told the BBC in a radio interview.
Saudi Arabia still believes in establishing ties with Israel despite the “deplorable” casualty figures in Gaza, but it would not “come at the cost of the Palestinian people,” the ambassador said.
A deal “was close, there is no question. For us, the final end point definitely included nothing less than an independent state of Palestine. So while we still — going forward after 7 October — believe in normalization, it does not come at the cost of the Palestinian people,” he was quoted as saying.
He added that “absolutely there is interest” among Saudi Arabia’s leaders for an agreement.
“We were close to normalization, therefore close to a Palestinian state. One doesn’t come without the other. The sequencing, how it is managed, that is what was being discussed,” the ambassador said.
After meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Monday in the Saudi city of Al-Ula, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters that he had brought up the subject of normalization.
“I can tell you this: There’s a clear interest here in pursuing that; there’s a clear interest in the region in pursuing that,” Blinken said, adding: “But it will require that the conflict end in Gaza, and it will also clearly require that there be a practical pathway to a Palestinian state.”