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Saudi Ambassador to U.K. Says Kingdom Still Wants Normalization with Israel

This combination file photo shows Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Reuters
This combination file photo shows Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Reuters

In a Tuesday interview, Khalid bin Bandar Al Saud, the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the United Kingdom, told the BBC’s Radio 4’s Today that his country is still interested in normalizing relations with Israel.

When asked about establishing formal ties with the Jewish state, Bandar described the negotiations as “close” to completion before the Kingdom asked the U.S. to suspend the talks after the Oct. 7 massacre in southern Israel.

The ambassador reiterated his government’s policy that any arrangement is contingent on the creation of a Palestinian state and that future diplomatic solutions should not “come at the cost of the Palestinian people.”

Bandar also suggested that the Hamas terrorist organization, a group that Jerusalem has stated would be unacceptable to continue in any post-war governance, should not be prohibited from holding political power in the event of statehood.

On Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, met Saudi officials on his fourth trip to the Middle East since October. Speaking to reporters, Blinken confirmed Riyadh’s intentions saying, “There’s a clear interest in the region in pursuing that but it will require that the conflict end in Gaza and it will also clearly require that there be a practical pathway to a Palestinian state.”

In 2020, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Morrocco signed normalization agreements with Israel under the direction of the Trump administration, in what was called the Abraham Accords. The following January, Sudan would also join the reconciliation.

Any reliable deal between the Israelis and the Saudis would likely be a significant contribution to regional stability, as Saudi Arabia is often seen as the most powerful Arab-majority nation the world.

Saudi Arabia has never recognized Israel’s sovereignty since its creation in 1948.

Related Story: What the Israel-Hamas Conflict Means for the Abraham Accords

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