EXCLUSIVE: Saudi FM: No meeting planned with Netanyahu, Palestine policy ‘firm’

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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has no plans to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Kingdom’s policy towards Palestine remains “firm,” according to Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud.

The Israeli media has been abuzz with reports that Netanyahu is seeking a meeting with the Crown Prince after the launch of US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan in January, and particularly after Netanyahu secured a rare encounter with the head of Sudan’s Transitional Sovereign Council in Uganda on Feb 3.

“There is no meeting planned between Saudi Arabia and Israel. Saudi Arabia’s policy has been very clear since the beginning of this conflict. There are no relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel and the Kingdom stands firmly behind Palestine,” Prince Faisal said in an exclusive telephone interview with Al Arabiya English.

Asked specifically about Sudan’s meeting with Netanyahu, Prince Faisal said: “Sudan is a sovereign nation. They can assess their own sovereign interests.”

Trump’s peace plan has been rejected by the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, who said the proposal would strengthen what he called Israel’s "apartheid regime" and would reward Israeli occupation rather than holding it accountable for crimes committed against Palestinians.

Following Trump’s announcement of his peace plan, Saudi Arabia said it appreciated the effort to devise a peace plan and called for the start of talks between the two sides to reach an agreement “that achieves the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people."

Prince Faisal said: “As we have said in the past, Saudi Arabia along with the other members of the Arab league has always shown a willingness to normalize relations with Israel if there is a just and fair settlement that is agreed by both Palestine and Israel. Short of that, Saudi policy will remain steadfast.”

Prince Faisal said rumors had been circulating on this subject for decades. “The policy of Saudi Arabia towards Palestine is firm. Saudi Arabia welcomes any attempt to resolve the Middle East crisis. This has nothing to do with Saudi Arabia’s commitment towards the issue.”

Asked if Saudi Arabia had any shared interests with Israel with regards to its policy toward Iran, Prince Faisal responded:

“It is not difficult to find countries that have issues with Iran in the Arab world, the European Union, or the United States. Any overlap in interests would not be unique to Saudi Arabia.”

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