After Israel-UAE Deal, Trump Says Saudi Arabia Expected to Follow Suit

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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends during a virtual cabinet meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, August 18, 2020.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends during a virtual cabinet meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, August 18, 2020. Credit: Reuters

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he expected Saudi Arabia to join the agreement announced last week by Israel and the United Arab Emirates that would lead to a full normalization of diplomatic relations between the two states.

"I do," Trump replied when asked at a White House news conference if he expected Saudi Arabia to join the deal.

PODCAST: Inside Israel's no-change, no-cost peace deal with the UAE

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Earlier on Wednesday, Saudi Arabia's foreign minister said that the kingdom remains committed to peace on the basis of the Arab Peace Initiative, which states that normalization with Israel would only come as part of a wider agreement to establish a Palestinian state.

"Saudi Arabia considers Israel's unilateral policies of an annexation and building settlements as an illegitimate and detrimental to the two states solution," Al Saud said. "Saudi Arabia affirms its commitment to peace as a strategic option based on the Arab Peace Initiatives."

As part of the Arab Peace Initiative, endorsed by the Arab League in 2002, Arab states led by Saudi Arabia have called for a Palestinian state drawn along borders that pre-date Israel’s capture of territory in a 1967 war as well as a capital in East Jerusalem and the right of return for refugees, points rejected by Israel. “Once that is achieved, all things are possible," Prince Faisal said.

Saudi Arabia had not previously officially commented about the deal between the UAE and Israel, which U.S. President Donald Trump helped to broker with support from senior adviser Jared Kushner.

The president also said that the UAE is interested in buying F-35 fighter jets from the United States, adding the monarchy is willing to pay a lot of money for them. 

Trump's statements come a day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the agreement to normalize relations with the UAE does not include an Israeli agreement for weapons sales between the UAE and the U.S.

According to the Prime Minister’s Office, Netanyahu “has opposed the sale of F-35 jets and other advanced weapons of any sort in the Middle East, including Arab states that make peace with the State of Israel.” He added that he has expressed this position in past months to U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. 

Israeli officials involved in the progressing relations between Israel and the UAE told Haaretz on Monday that Israel did not change its longstanding opposition to selling F-35 jets and other advanced weapons to the Gulf state, despite the accord.

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