BERLIN – Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister on Wednesday cautiously welcomed an agreement between its close ally the United Arab Emirates and Israel to establish full diplomatic 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.”
But he refrained from outright backing the move, while saying that Saudi Arabia was open to establishing similar relations on condition that a peace agreement is reached between Israel and the Palestinians.
Prince Faisal's remarks during a news conference with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas were the first public comment by Saudi Arabia on Thursday’s surprise announcement by U.S. President Donald Trump that his administration helped broker the UAE-Israel agreement.
While Bahrain, Oman and Egypt issued official statements welcoming the agreement, the kingdom did not at the time and did not respond to requests for comment until Wednesday's news conference in Berlin.
The UAE framed its agreement as a successful measure that halted Israeli plans to annex West Bank territory. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, however, has said the suspension is only temporary.
The Palestinians have issued scathing statements saying the UAE undermined Arab consensus and described the move as a “betrayal of Jerusalem, Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Palestinian cause."
Saudi Arabia, like other Arab Gulf states, has built quiet ties with Israel over the years, in part because of shared concerns over Iran and its policies in the region.