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Saudis Could Recognise Israel If Palestinian Issue Resolve - Foreign Minister

DAVOS - Saudi Arabia's foreign minister said on Tuesday the kingdom could recognize Israel if a comprehensive agreement were reached that included statehood for the Palestinians, ambitious talk as the war between Israel and Hamas shows no sign of easing.

"We agree that regional peace includes peace for Israel, but that could only happen through peace for the Palestinians through a Palestinian state", Prince Faisal bin Farhan told a panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Asked if Saudi Arabia would then recognize Israel as part of a wider political agreement, he said: "Certainly".

Prince Faisal said securing regional peace through the creation of a Palestinian state was "something we have been indeed working on with the U.S. administration, and it is more relevant in the context of Gaza".

Securing a normalisation deal with Saudi Arabia would be the grand prize for Israel after it established diplomatic ties with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Morocco, and could transform the geopolitics of the Middle East.

The Sunni Muslim kingdom, the most powerful country in the Arab world and home to the most sacred sites in Islam wields considerable religious clout across the globe.

After the eruption of war last October between Israel and the militant Palestinian group Hamas that rules Gaza, Saudi Arabia put on ice U.S. - backed plans for the kingdom to normalise ties with Israel, two sources familiar with Riyadh's thinking said, in a swift recording of its diplomatic priorities.

The two sources told Reuters there would be some delay in the U.S. - backed talks on normalisation of Saudi - Israel ties, which is seen as a key step for the kingdom to secure what it considers the real prize of a U.S. defence pact in exchange.



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