US President Donald Trump said yesterday he expects Saudi Arabia to join the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to normalise ties with Israel and forge a broad new relationship.
When asked at a White House news conference if he expected Saudi Arabia to join the deal, Trump replied "I do."
Last Thursday, the UAE and Israel announced they had reached an agreement to normalise relations amid local and regional opposition.
According to the agreement, Israel would halt its plans to annex portions of the West Bank from Palestinians, although Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said the plans remained "on the table".
Earlier in the news conference, Trump called the UAE-Israel accord a good deal and said "countries that you wouldn't even believe want to come into that deal," reported Reuters.
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Meanwhile, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal Bin Farhan Al-Saud reiterated in a joint press conference with his German counterpart Heiko Maas on Wednesday, that his country is committed to the Arab Peace Initiative adopted by the Arab League in 2002.
The Arab Peace Initiative – sponsored by Saudi Arabia in 2002 – promises Israel full ties with Arab states if a peace settlement is reached with the Palestinians.
He noted, "Peace must be achieved between the Palestinians and Israelis based on internationally-recognised parametres. Once that is achieved, all things are possible," though it has been reported that deals being drawn up will see flights between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv using Saudi air space.
This comes after Trump's senior adviser Jared Kushner claimed earlier this week that it would be in Saudi Arabia's economic interest to normalise ties with Israel as the UAE has agreed to do.
"It would be very good for Saudi business, it would very good for Saudi's defence, and, quite frankly, I think it would also help the Palestinian people," said Kushner.
Palestinians denounced the Israel-UAE deal, while Gulf nations Oman and Bahrain praised it.