A top Saudi diplomat on Thursday said there were “positive elements” in the Trump administration’s peace plan that could be the basis of renewed negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
“There are positive elements in Trump’s peace plan,” Adel Al-Jubeir, the Saudi minister of state for foreign affairs, said during a visit to Romania.
“These elements may establish the basis for negotiation between the two sides.”
He also noted, however, that “the Palestinians have rejected this plan and made it clear that it doesn’t meet their requirements.”
Jubeir, who previously served as Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister and ambassador to Washington, stressed that “it is our duty to support the Palestinians.”
Saudi Arabia has long championed the Arab Peace Initiative, its 2002 proposal that offered normalized relations with Israel in exchange for the establishment of a Palestinian state on the 1967 lines and a “just” solution to the Palestinian refugee issue.
Breaking with past US administrations, the Trump plan envisions the creation of a Palestinian state in about 70 percent of the West Bank, a handful of neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, most of Gaza and some areas of southern Israel — if the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state, disarm Hamas and other terror groups in the coastal enclave, and fulfill other conditions.
The plan also allows Israel to annex settlements, grants the Jewish state sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and overriding security control west of the Jordan River, and bars Palestinian refugees from settling in Israel.
The Palestinians have angrily rejected the plan as biased toward Israel and have sought to drum up international opposition to the proposal.
Days after the plan’s release, Saudi Arabia joined with other Arab League states to unanimously reject it, saying as a group that the proposal did not “meet the minimum rights and aspirations of Palestinian people.”
Saudi Arabia and other US-backed Arab countries, however, have been more measured in their individual responses to the plan.
In its initial reaction to the plan, Saudi Arabia expressed its longtime support for the “brotherly Palestinian people,” and said it backed “all efforts aimed at reaching a just and comprehensive resolution to the Palestinian cause.”
“The Kingdom appreciate the efforts of President Trump’s Administration to develop a comprehensive peace plan between the Palestinian and Israeli sides; and encourages the start of direct peace negotiation between the Palestinian and Israeli sides, under the auspices of the United States,” Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry said in a statement on January 28.
Agencies contributed to this report.