Prince Faisal bin Farhan. Photo: John MacDougall, Pool/Getty Images
Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan said Wednesday that the kingdom supports peace in the Middle East on the basis of the Arab Peace Initiative, which calls for normalization with Israel to be paired with withdrawal from the occupied territories and the creation of a Palestinian state.
Why it matters: This could be interpreted as a cool initial response to the U.S.-brokered normalization deal between Israel and the UAE.
Between the lines: Israeli officials said they'd hoped for a warmer reaction to the deal from Saudi Arabia, which has refrained from either praising or criticizing it. The Israeli government hopes Saudi Arabia, a secret ally in Israel's efforts to counter Iran, might follow the UAE in recognizing Israel.
- During a press conference in Berlin with his German counterpart, the Saudi foreign minister also warned that unilateral Israeli steps, like annexing parts of the West Bank, will undermine the chances for peace and a two-state solution.
The big picture: The Israeli government hoped the UAE move would break a diplomatic deadlock among Arab countries, none of which had recognized Israel since Jordan in 1994 and Egypt in 1979.
- A Sudanese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said yesterday that the North African country intended to follow the UAE's example, and it was already in talks with Israel.
- But the foreign minister himself then intervened, saying he was "astonished" by the spokesperson's comments, which were "not authorized." The spokesperson was later fired.