Former advisor to Saudi government: No normalization without Palestinian state

In an editorial published in Al Quds one day ahead of Israeli elections Nawaf Obaid wrote that Saudi Arabia stands by the Palestinians and the Arab peace initiative of 2,002 and would not risk a rift with its own public that would regard recognition of Israel as an abandonment of Muslim values

Daniel Salami|Updated:
A Former advisor to Saudi government said on Monday that normalized relations with Israel would be possible only after Palestinians establish a "totally" independent state.
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  • Nawaf Obaid expressed his views in an article in the Palestinian Al Quds newspaper published a day before the Israeli elections, Nawaf Obaid who had advised the Saudi government on policy for many years, is considered by Mid-East observers to be expressing the Saudi position.
    2 View gallery
    Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas with Saudi King Salman during a visit to the kingdom in 2017
    Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas with Saudi King Salman during a visit to the kingdom in 2017
    Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas with Saudi King Salman during a visit to the kingdom in 2017
    (Photo: AP)
    His editorial in Al-Quds would likely not have been published without the knowledge and consent of the Palace in Riyad, and follow remarks made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Israel and Saudi Arabia will establish direct flights between the two nations.
    “I’m going to bring you direct flights from Tel Aviv to Mecca,” Netanyahu said in an interview to Channel 13 last week.
    "Theoretically, some believe, Crown Prince bin Salman would wish to advance normalization of relations with Jerusalem, but he is cognizant of the risks in adopting such a position that encompasses in it a recognition of Israel," Obaid wrote.
    "If this were to happen there would be repercussions not only in the Saudi kingdom, the richest nation and one with an important religious and national role, but also in the entire Arab and Muslim world," he said.
    "The vast majority in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere, continue to hold the views of King Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, who declared that his kingdom will be the last Muslim nation to recognize Israel. That historic announcement cannot be discounted," Obaid wrote in the Al Quds editorial.
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    הנסיך בן סלמן
    הנסיך בן סלמן
    Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman
    (Photo: Reuters)
    Saudi extremists, who have used violence in the past, would see talk of normalization as a reason to act because it would be considered a desertion of Muslim values, according to Obaid, and the regime would not risk a rift with its own people.
    "There is no denying that the door to normalization was opened and we must remember that Saudi recognition of Israel depends on the Palestinians establishing a "totally" independent state," Obaid wrote adding there was still much work that must be done before the Saudi public could support such a Saudi policy shift.
    In his article, Obaid signaled to the Palestinian Authority that the Saudi royal palace supports them and stands by the Arab peace initiative proposed in the 2,002.
    The editorial can also be regarded as a message to the Biden administration.

    First published: 08:26, 03.22.21
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