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UAE-Israel deal 'could be positive', says Saudi FM

AP, AFP/Berlin, Germany
Filed on August 20, 2020 | Last updated on August 20, 2020 at 06.22 am
saudi arabia, foreign minister, prince faisal bin farhan, uae, israel, peace, deal, treaty, palestinians
Saudi Arabian foreign minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan with his German counterpart Heiko Maas at a news conference on Wednesday.

(Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs Twitter)

Prince Faisal says Saudi is open to a similar deal if a peace agreement is reached between Israel and the Palestinians.

Saudi Arabia's foreign minister on Wednesday cautiously welcomed an agreement between its close ally the UAE and Israel to establish full ties and exchange embassies.

Prince Faisal bin Farhan said the deal, which also halted unilateral annexation by Israel of West Bank territory sought by the Palestinians, "could be viewed as positive."

He stressed that Saudi Arabia is open to establishing similar relations on condition that a peace agreement is reached between Israel and the Palestinians.

His remarks during a news conference with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas were the first public comment by Saudi Arabia on Thursday's announcement by US President Donald Trump that his administration helped broker the UAE-Israel agreement.

Bahrain, Oman and Egypt issued official statements welcoming the agreement.

The UAE framed its agreement as a successful measure that halted Israeli plans to annex West Bank territory.

Prince Faisal reiterated during the press conference the Kingdom's long-stated public stance of support for the Arab Peace Initiative - sponsored by Saudi Arabia in 2002 - which promises Israel full ties with Arab states if a peace settlement is reached with the Palestinians.

"Peace must be achieved with the Palestinians" on the basis of international agreements as a pre-condition for any normalisation of relations, Prince Faisal said.

"Once that is achieved all things are possible," he added, in a comment that was consistent with Saudi Arabia's previous stance on the issue.

At a news conference with his German counterpart Heiko Maas, Prince Faisal reiterated criticism of Israel's "unilateral policies" of annexation and building settlements in the occupied West Bank as "illegitimate" and "detrimental" to a two-state solution.

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