A statement by the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday underlined the Kingdom’s position on the centrality of establishing a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital, as a major requirement for bringing peace to the region.
The statement came to block the way for any compromises regarding Riyadh’s consistent and established historical position, which was enshrined in the Arab Peace Initiative, about the recognition of the Palestinian state on the 1967 borders, in exchange for any normalization.
In the face of the current developments, Saudi Arabia stressed that ending the Israeli aggression on Gaza and withdrawing all members of the Israeli occupation forces from the strip was another condition to the Arab-Israeli peace process.
Many pages and websites were recently filled with media leaks, most of which came through official American or Israeli sources and the latest was issued by US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby.
However, the Saudi Foreign Ministry’s statement on the condition of establishing an independent Palestinian state, as a major requirement for bringing peace to the region, came to block the way for any compromises regarding Riyadh’s consistent and established historical position towards the Palestinian cause and its permanent support for the rights of the Palestinian people.
The escalation of US and Israeli media rumors that tried to mislead public opinion and suggest that Saudi Arabia was open to the idea of establishing a normal relationship with Israel despite the latter’s continued aggression against Gaza, came at a critical stage of events.
These rumors coincided with an increasing effort by Saudi Arabia to push for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and amid a delicate internal situation in both the United States and Israel, linked to the consequences of the war and the presidential elections, revealing attempts to influence the Saudi effort.
Thus, the Saudi government’s statement come to silence these leaks, using a frank and direct rhetoric that emphasized Saudi efforts on the Palestinian issue, and refuted all the allegations that both Washington and Tel Aviv tried to use for a number of diverse political interests internally and externally.
Nonetheless, the most important confirmation of the Saudi stance came during a television interview conducted by the American Fox News channel with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, during which he stressed the importance of resolving the Palestinian issue, as an essential condition for any normalization of relations with Israel.
The Crown Prince added that Saudi Arabia was maintaining negotiations with the administration of US President Joe Biden to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinians.
In addition to Riyadh’s calls on the international community to assume its responsibilities to end the occupation, stop the escalation, and provide the necessary protection for civilians, recent events have highlighted Saudi Arabia’s warnings of a serious escalation as a result of “continuous Israeli provocations.”
In fact, the Kingdom issued more than 20 official statements, monitored by Asharq Al-Awsat, even 24 hours before the events of October 7, warning of the explosive situation, and calling on the necessity to provide protection for civilians, while urging the international community and the UN Security Council to carry out their responsibilities to end the occupation.
These statements were reinforced by the high-level contacts of the Saudi Crown Prince since October 7, the extraordinary joint Arab-Islamic summit, the decisions emanating from it, and other meetings called for by Riyadh.
The sovereignty of decisions
Based on the statements issued by Riyadh since the start of the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip, political observers pointed to the Saudi government’s emphasis on the necessity of establishing an independent Palestinian state on the 1967 borders, which they said confirmed the sovereignty of the Saudi decision away from dependence on any foreign calculations.
Political Analyst Nidal Al-Sabaa told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Saudi momentum at this time clearly shows the importance of the Kingdom’s role during major crises in the region.
He added: “Riyadh’s role in the current events in Gaza has contributed to controlling the international balance with other major countries, especially in light of the international polarization that appeared clearly from the first day of the crisis amid unparalleled Western support for Israel in the first phase of the war, and an Arab and regional solidarity with the Palestinians in the occupied territories.”
Al-Sabaa added that Saudi Arabia’s efforts are based on “preventing a humanitarian catastrophe in the Gaza Strip.”
The Saudi position expressed in the Foreign Ministry’s statement is considered a historical stance par excellence in terms of time and circumstance.
In this context, Ahmed Al-Ibrahim, an expert in Saudi-American relations, told Asharq Al-Awsat: “Saudi Arabia stands out as a key player in supporting the Palestinian cause and the Palestinian people. Historically, the Kingdom has expressed its rejection of Israeli security and military measures against the Palestinian territories, in addition to its plan for peace through the Arab Peace Initiative.”
Since the beginning of the Israeli aggression, Riyadh has made an appeal to the permanent members of the Security Council to carry out their duties and responsibilities towards the Palestinians.
But in its recent statement, the Kingdom demanded that the international community, especially the Council’s permanent members, “accelerate the recognition of an independent Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital,” which reflects the scale of the courageous historical decisions that Saudi Arabia has taken over the past seven decades.