Saudi Arabia Stands for Palestinian Issue, While Allowing its Airspace to Israel

Saudi Arabia Stands for Palestinian Issue, While Allowing its Airspace to Israel 

Saudi Arabia’s ruler King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, while having a telephonic conversation with US President Donald Trump, has shown eagerness in achieving a fair and permanent solution to the Palestinian issue.

Last month, the US brokered a peace deal between the United Arab Emirates and Israel, in which the UAE agreed to normalise ties with Israel in return of Israel abandoning its plan to annex the West Bank for the time being. The UAE became the third Arab country after Egypt and Jordan to normalise ties with Israel. Following the success of the UAE-Israel deal, the US now expects other Middle Eastern countries to follow the suite.

Saudi Arabia does not recognise Israel. The kingdom kept mum after the UAE-Israel deal. However, King Salman has clearly put the kingdom’s stance in front of the US President, saying that there cannot be normalisation of ties with Israel without resolving the Palestinian issue.

King Salman appreciated the efforts by the US to achieve peace, but highlighted that a permanent solution is required to address the Palestinian issue based on its Arab Peace Initiative of 2002. Under the proposal, Arab countries offered to normalise ties with Israel in return of a statehood deal with the Palestinians and full Israeli withdrawal from the territory captured in the 1967 Middle East war.

While Saudi Arabia has been showing such a stern stance against Israel, the kingdom recently allowed Israeli flights to use its airspace while flying to and fro from the UAE. Trump welcomed the move and discussed ways to enhance regional security with King Salman. Trump also called on Saudi to negotiate with other Gulf states to resolve the rift.

Trump’s son-in-law and the White House advisor Jared Kushner has been trying to normalise ties between Israel and other Arab nations. Following Kushner’s visit to the Middle East last month, he said he is hopeful that other Arab countries will also follow the UAE in normalising ties with Israel. However, no other Arab nation has shown interest as of now in following the UAE’s move and ignoring the Palestinian issue.

The UAE-Israel deal was met with profuse rejection by the Palestinians. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called the deal a “stab in the Palestinians’ back”.

Abbas said that the UAE is “trying to deceive us that the peace deal with Israel came in exchange for stopping the Israeli annexation plan, but it is not true.” 

Abbas called on all Arab nations to stand by the Arab Peace Initiative, which stipulates that the Arabs can only normalise relations with Israel after the Palestinian issue is resolved. The government has threatened to declare Palestine as a state along the internationally recognised 1967 borders if Israel presses ahead with its plan to annex parts of the West Bank.

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