September 26, 2023 | Flash Brief

Saudi Diplomat Invokes 2002 Blueprint in Israel Normalization Talks

September 26, 2023 | Flash Brief

Saudi Diplomat Invokes 2002 Blueprint in Israel Normalization Talks

Latest Developments

A Saudi diplomat suggested on September 26 that normalization with Israel would factor in the 2002 pan-Arab peace proposal sponsored by Riyadh. Nayef Al-Sudairi, the newly minted Saudi non-resident ambassador to the Palestinians, is making his first visit to Ramallah this week. Asked by reporters about the U.S.-brokered efforts to forge formal relations between Riyadh and Jerusalem, he said, “The Arab initiative, which Saudi Arabia presented in 2002, is a fundamental pillar of any upcoming agreement.”

The Arab Peace Initiative offered Israel recognition by Arab states in exchange for its full withdrawal from territories captured in the 1967 Six-Day War — including eastern Jerusalem.

Al-Sudairi also presented the Palestinians with credentials describing his dual role as “consul-general in Jerusalem” — a nod to their challenge to Israel’s sovereignty in its capital. He was not, however, expected to travel to Jerusalem during his two-day visit.

Expert Analysis

“The 2002 Saudi proposal was a dead letter — and not just because Israel was battling a wave of Palestinian suicide terrorism at the time. There are ample indications that Riyadh, which was under U.S. scrutiny for the majority-Saudi makeup of the 9/11 hijackers, was looking to shift attention to Israel’s supposed diplomatic recalcitrance. So the proposal’s invocation now — fully a generation later — is odd. Israel will have to make concessions on Palestinian issues to secure a deal, but they will not be based on a two-decades old proposal that would threaten Israeli security.” — Mark Dubowitz, FDD CEO

“Any engagement by the Saudis in the Palestinian-Israeli arena should be seen as a positive development right now. But as discussions progress, it will be important to see the Saudis get on the same page as the Israelis. Normalization cannot fully materialize without a clear understanding of what is possible, both short and long term, for the Palestinians and their desire to fulfill their national aspirations. There are significant challenges in this regard due to a lack of Palestinian leadership. The Saudis, in particular, must begin to grapple with this.” — Jonathan Schanzer, FDD Senior Vice President for Research

“Visiting the Golan Heights on August 9, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the strategic plateau ‘will be under Israeli sovereignty forever.’ Americans certainly needed no reminder of this: In 2019, then President Trump recognized the Golan as Israeli. But Washington might want to resend that memo to the Saudis: Their 2002 peace proposal, now being reinvoked, would return the Golan to Bashar Al-Assad’s Syria and be used as an Iranian base to threaten Israel.” — Enia Krivine, Senior Director of FDD’s Israel Program and National Security Network

Netanyahu Hails Prospects for Normalization Between Israel and Saudi Arabia,” FDD Flash Brief

Saudi Arabia Moves to Assert Influence in West Bank as Normalization with Israel Appears Possible,” FDD Flash Brief

The United States and Saudi Arabia: A Possible Path Forward,” by Bradley Bowman, Orde Kittrie, and Ryan Brobst


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