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King Salman reiterates Saudi support for Palestinian two-state solution

King Salman says Saudi Arabia is committed to a two-state solution [Getty]

Date of publication: 23 September, 2020

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Saudi Arabia's King Salman has said the kingdom supports
Saudi King Salman has reiterated his kingdom's support for the establishment of a Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem as its capital, as the basis of any Middle East peace deal, during a speech to the UN General Assembly on Wednesday.

While King Salman said he supported the US' efforts to promote dialogue in the Middle East, he appeared to distance himself from the recent normalisation agreements between Gulf states, Bahrain and the UAE, and Israel.

"We support the efforts of the current US administration to achieve peace in the Middle East by bringing the Palestinians and the Israelis to the negotiation table to reach a fair and comprehensive agreement," he said, according to Reuters.

Instead, the monarch committed Saudi Arabia to the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, which demands Israel agree to the establishment of a Palestinian state in return for recognition.

He told the UN that the Arab Peace Initiative offers a "comprehensive and just solution" to the Palestine-Israel conflict, which would include East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state.

The UAE and Bahrain's diversion from this peace track has led to a howl of criticism in the Arab world, including in Ramallah, arguing that the agreements grant Israel recognition without offering Palestinians any concessions in return.

While Riyadh has cooperated on the issue - such as by allowing Israel-UAE flights to use Saudi airspace - it has so-far refused to enter into a similar agreement with Israel.

Some analysts have suggested a rift exists between Saudi King Salman and his son Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is said to support normalisation with Israel.

In 2018, the crown prince said that Israelis have a right to their own land, sparking rumours that this could be a step towards normalisation.

Riyadh quickly affirmed to its commitment to a two-state solution.

Saudi Arabia, as custodian of Islam's two holiest sites, is still viewed by some Muslims as a figurehead as so makes normalisation with Israel a more sensitive issue than for its neighbours.

King Salman also used his address to the assembly to hit out at regional rival Iran and slammed its nuclear deal with world powers.

"Our experience with the Iranian regime has taught us that partial solutions and appeasement did not stop its threats to international peace and security," King Salman said.
He said the 2015 nuclear deal allowed Iran "to intensify its expansionist activities, create its terrorist networks, and use terrorism", saying this had created "chaos, extremism, and sectarianism".

King Salman called on the UN to find "a comprehensive solution and a firm international position are required", to the issue of Iran.

He also hit out at Islamist movement Hezbollah, viewed as a proxy for Iranian interests in Lebanon by some.

"This terrorist organisation must be disarmed," he said in the video address.

He added that the 4 August Port of Beirut blast, caused by poorly stored ammonium nitrate, "occurred as a result of the hegemony of Hezbollah... over the decision-making process in Lebanon by force of arms".

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