Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Faisal bin Farhan, said on Thursday that Riyadh normalising ties with Israel would bring significant benefits to the Middle East region, but that those benefits would be restricted in the absence of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“We believe that normalisation is in the interest of the region, that it would bring significant benefits to all”, bin Farhan said when asked at a press conference with US secretary of state Antony Blinken.
“But without finding a pathway to peace for the Palestinian people, without addressing that challenge, any normalisation will have limited benefits”, he said, without mentioning Israel by name.
“Therefore, I think we should continue to focus on finding a pathway toward a two-state solution, on finding a pathway toward giving the Palestinians dignity and justice. I think the US has a similar view that it’s important to continue on those efforts”.
Though reiterating longstanding Saudi policy, the comments represented an explicit recognition of the “significant benefits” of normalisation with Israel, representing an unusually optimistic development.
The term “pathway toward a two-state solution” has likewise been interpreted as something of a softening of policy, as Saudi officials have previously claimed that a two-state solution would be the price of normalisation with the Jewish state.
Blinken reiterated the Biden administration’s “fully support” for “Israel’s integration in the Middle East”, adding that he is working to strengthen and expand the 2020 Abraham Accords, which normalised ties between Israel and four Arab countries.