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Saudi Foreign Minister hints at normalization of ties with Israel

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Abdus-Sattar Ghazali
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Saudi foreign minister, Faisal bin Farhan, says normalization with Israel will eventually take place within the framework of a Palestinian-Israeli peace plan, the Anadolu news agency reported Friday.

In an online interview with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Faisal bin Farhan said normalization with Israel was included in the Saudi peace plan proposal in 1981.

The Saudi Foreign Minister was visiting Washington to hold talks with the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

"We welcome the recent efforts to bring the parties together towards a comprehensive peace plan because an important step for a secure" Middle East remains a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. All other things will follow from that," the Saudi foreign minister said adding:

"I believe that the focus now needs to be on getting the Palestinians and the Israelis back to the negotiating table. In the end, the only thing that can deliver lasting peace and lasting stability is an agreement between the Palestinians and the Israelis. If we don't manage to achieve that, we will continue to have that festering wound in the region."

Invoking the 2002 Saudi-led peace initiative, the foreign minister added: "We always envisioned that normalization would happen but we also need to have a Palestinian state and we need to have a Palestinian-Israeli peace plan."

Saudi leaders, including Faisal bin Farhan, have previously ruled out forging ties with Israel before a Palestinian state was created, even as they welcomed the normalization deals between the Jewish state and Gulf Arab states signed in Washington last month, according to the Times of Israel.

Meanwhile, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday urged Saudi Arabia to recognize Israel.

"We hope Saudi Arabia will consider normalizing its relationships as well. We want to thank them for the assistance they've had in the success of the Abraham Accords so far," said Pompeo, while hosting his Saudi counterpart in Washington.

Covert ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia are believed to have been growing in recent years. The shift in policy has reportedly been led by Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, who sees Israel as a strategic partner in the fight against Iranian influence in the region, the Times of Israel said Friday.

Omani delegation visits Al-Aqsa under Israeli watch

Meanwhile, escorted by Israeli police forces, an Omani delegation on Thursday visited the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

A Jerusalem Islamic Waqf official told Anadolu Agency the 10-member delegation visited the Muslim's third-most holiest site Thursday evening guarded by the Israeli police.

Maariv, an Israeli Hebrew newspaper, reported on Sept. 25 that Oman and Sudan are currently holding US-sponsored talks with Israel with the aim of announcing peace agreements in the near future.

"Recent days have witnessed great progress in communications between Israel and the Sultanate of Oman, and it was agreed to announce soon a joint statement regarding the decision to normalize relations between the two countries," the newspaper added.

Oman welcomed the UAE and Bahrain's agreements normalizing relations with Israel, officially signed on Sept. 15 in Washington.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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