Saudi ambassador to UK offers continued hope for normalisation deal with Israel

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Saudi ambassador to UK offers continued hope for normalisation deal with Israel

Prince Khalid bin Bandar Al Saud tells Radio 4's Today programme his country have been 'willing to accept Israel for a long time' but only with a plan for Palestinian state

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Prince Khalid bin Bandar Al Saud
Prince Khalid bin Bandar Al Saud

Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the UK has refused to rule out the prospect of a normalisation deal with Israel but only with a pathway for a “stable, independent, sovereign nation for the Palestinians”. 

In an interview on Radio 4’s Today programme Prince Khalid bin Bandar Al Saud was asked about the status of normalisation talks in the aftermath of the October 7th Hamas terror attack, and Israel’s response in Gaza.

The ambassador confirmed there was “absolutely” continued interest from his country in achieving a deal, adding “there’s been interest since 1982.”

He continued:”We’ve been at this for a long time and willing to accept Israel for a long time.

“It’s a reality that we have to live with. But we can’t live with Israel without a Palestinian state.”

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Jeddah, June 7, 2023. Pic: JTA – Amer Hilabi/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Asked about the state of talks over normalisation prior to October 7th, Prince Khalid said:”We were close to normalisation therefore close to a Palestinian state. One doesn’t come without the other.

“The sequencing, how it’s managed, that’s what was being discussed. Not just with Americans, but also with the Palestinians.

“Palestinians are the key element to this. This is not a Saudi Israeli peace plan. It’s about the survival of both countries going forwards.

“We are just a part of this, at the end of the day it’s the interest of the Palestinian people that are most important because without a stable, independent, sovereign nation for the Palestinians nothing else matters.”

The Saudi diplomat was also asked if he saw Hamas as being “part of that solution, part of that future state?”

He replied:”It requires a lot of thought. A lot of work. If you look at Ireland today there are a lot of members, the largest party in Ireland today was recognised as terrorists for years here in the UK.

“There’s always room for change if you have optimism and hope. But when there’s a conflict, the first thing you have to recognise is that both sides have lost.”

The ambassador suggested that the current Israeli government was working from an “extremist absolutist perspective which does not want to achieve compromise and therefore you are never going to end the conflict.”

But pressed on the fact that the Saudi’s were negotiating with Israel, he said:”We weren’t talking to them, the Americans were.”

Prince Khalid added he was of the view that settlers with extremist views had now “occupied the Israeli government.”

He added:”And it’s not just from the acknowledged right-wing extremists, it’s some of the ministers we thought were more sensible. In most sensible governments they’d be asked to leave.”

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