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Saudi Arabia's Adel al-Jubeir confirms no normalisation deal with Israel

Minister of state for foreign affairs also says kingdom has made 'great strides' with regards to human rights
Jubeir, left, said relations with the United States were unlikely to change under President Joe Biden (AFP)

Adel al-Jubeir, Saudi Arabia's minister of state for foreign affairs, has said his country has not moved with regard to its position on normalising relations with Israel, despite diplomatic deals by its close allies and neighbours. 

Jubeir told Arab News on Friday that the Saudi position has not changed and it still supports the Arab Peace Initiative, which offers normalisation in exchange for the creation of a Palestinian state. 

He said the recent normalisation deals by the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan were "sovereign decisions," but if they led to a change in Israeli policies towards Palestinians "then there may be some benefit in it".

"But as far as the kingdom is concerned, our position remains that normalisation can only come if there's an agreement on peace," said Jubeir. 

"We want a two-state solution based on the Arab Peace Initiative and the relevant United Nations resolutions where we have a Palestinian state and living side by side in peace and security. That remains our position."

'Great strides' in human rights

Jubeir also said that relations with the United States were unlikely to change under President Joe Biden.

Earlier this week, Biden defended his administration's decision to not impose sanctions on Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, despite acknowledging that the royal was responsible for the murder of US-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

In an interview with ABC News aired in parts on Wednesday, Biden credited himself for releasing the US intelligence community's findings on the killing but said sanctioning bin Salman would have been unprecedented.

Jubeir told Arab News: "Our relationship with the US is a strategic relationship. We have economic interests and financial interests. We work to fight extremism and terrorism."

With regard to the US returning to the nuclear deal with Iran, the minister said: "I believe they have made it clear that they want Iran to go back to the nuclear agreement and they want a nuclear agreement that is, to quote Secretary of State [Antony] Blinken, 'stronger and longer'.

"This is something that we've been advocating since the advent of this deal."

However, the minister criticised the US decision to remove Yemen's Houthi movement from its international terror list.

"So, the message the position from our perspective with regards to the Houthis is very clear: they belong on a terrorism list and nobody should deal with them," he said.

Jubeir also defended Saudi Arabia's record on human rights, saying the kingdom had made "great strides". 

Biden's administration has urged Riyadh to release political prisoners held in Saudi Arabia, including women's rights activists.