At the Munich Security Conference at which international security concerns were discussed, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud said to the forum, that “the normalization of Israel’s status within the region would bring tremendous benefits to the region as a whole”.
In an interview with CNN, the Saudi FM was asked about the developments in relations with Israel in light of their common enemy, Iran, and if a normalization deal was ”imminent.”
“I don’t know if it is imminent,” the Saudi FM said to CNN. “That is very much dependent on the peace process. There is, of course, a normalization deal on the table that has been on the table since 2002.”
The FM explained that he was referring to the Arab Peace Initiative, also known as the Saudi Initiative that was presented by Saudi Arabia and endorsed by the Arab League in 2002 at the Beirut Summit and re-endorsed at the 2007 and at the 2017 Arab League summits. The initiative offered normalization of relations by the Arab world with Israel, in return for a full withdrawal by Israel from the West Bank, Gaza, the Golan Heights, and Lebanon, and the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.
“This puts forward full and complete normalization with Israel in return for a just settlement to the Palestinian issue,” the FM said.
“It would be extremely helpful both economically and socially, and from a security perspective,” he said in the interview with CNN.“That normalization in the region could only be successful if we address the issue of the Palestinians and we were able to deliver a Palestinian state within 1967 borders that gives the Palestinians dignity and gives them their rights.”
The FM noted that under such a normalization, Saudi Arabia would welcome Israelis of all religions.
In September last year, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain signed the Trump-brokered Abraham Accords to normalize ties with Israel. Sudan and Morocco soon after signed similar agreements with Israel. Israel also signed a peace agreement with Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.
In November, Prime Minister Netanyahu traveled to Saudi Arabia for the first time where he met with Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Saudi Arabia officially denied that the meeting had taken place.
Saudi Arabia has since opened its airspace to Israeli commercial flights.
The Saudi FM’s language is subtly, though significantly different than the Arab Peace Initiative, also known as the Saudi Initiative that was presented by Saudi Arabia and endorsed by the Arab League in 2002 at the Beirut Summit and re-endorsed at the 2007 and at the 2017 Arab League summits. The initiative offered normalization of relations by the Arab world with Israel, in return for a full withdrawal by Israel from the West Bank, Gaza, the Golan Heights, and Lebanon, and the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.
Rabbi Pinchas Winston stated emphatically that under these circumstances, Saudi Arabian normalizing relations with Israel is not the prophesied repentance of the Children of Ishmael that would reunite the Arabs with the Jews.
“This is not even a little bit of repentance,” “The Saudis kicked out the Palestinians that lived in their country. Our problem with the Palestinians is based on what the other Arab countries did to the Palestinians. Now, they expect us to fix it for them.”
“What the Saudi Foreign Minister is saying is what Ishmael would say to Isaac before he repented; What’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is also mine.”
“Real repentance by the Children of Ishmael would be if they recognized the land that Hashem gave to the Children of Isaac, including Judea and Samaria of course. The Palestinians could do repentance by being faithful citizens of Israel.”
The concept of the repentance of the Children of Ishmael in the end of days is based on the precedent set in Genesis when Abraham’s two sons came to his funeral:
The medieval commentator known by the acronym Rashi explained that in this verse, Ishmael should have come first since he was older. Ishmael acknowledged the spiritual superiority of Isaac by allowing him to go first when burying their father. According to Jewish tradition, this will be replayed in the end of days by the Arabs showing respect for the offspring of Jacob.