The idea of an imagined “domino effect” of Arab states following the UAE-Israel agreement came crashing down on Friday as Saudi Arabia announced its “price.”
Rabat – Saudi Arabia has set its price for normalizing relations with Israel by demanding a sovereign Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal responded to US speculation that the Israel-UAE agreement would push other Arab countries to follow suit.
The idea of such a “domino effect” came crashing down when the prince stated that only a free Palestine would meet its price. “Any Arab state that is considering following the UAE should demand in return a price, and it should be an expensive price,” al-Faisal wrote in Saudi publication Asharq al-Awsat on Friday.
Together with Oman, US media had posited Saudi Arabia as one of the most likely candidates to sign a similar agreement. The Saudis are one of the US’ top customers for military hardware and the Saudi royal house has maintained strong relations with the Trump family. Saudi Arabia has now squashed this speculation by naming its price for normalization.
Arab Peace Initiative
The Saudi position will help keep the Arab Peace Initiative alive and send a signal to other countries considering the economic allure of an agreement with Israel. Israeli politicians, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, had considered the UAE agreement as signaling the end of the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative. The proposal formalized the Arab world’s demands, which then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon called “a non-starter.”
The Arab Peace Initiative, which Saudi Arabia initiated, offered normalization with Israel in exchange for a full withdrawal of Israeli forces from the occupied territories in Palestine and Lebanon. Prince Turki’s statement in Asharq al-Awsat reiterates these demands and will send a signal that “normalization” is anything but normal for those who truly support the Palestinian cause.
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has set a price for concluding peace between Israel and the Arabs,” Prince Turki said. “It is the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state with Jerusalem as capital, as provided for by the initiative of the late King Abdullah.”