Saudi Arabia’s Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan on Wednesday discussed his country’s efforts to de-escalate the “recent events” in the Middle East region, without naming any of the parties involved.
“Our solidarity goes out to those who are suffering, to civilians, to civilians wherever they are, and international law must be respected – without international law being respected, the world would be in chaos,” al-Jadaan said in during a panel in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Arabia, moderated by CNBC’s Dan Murphy.
“So we need calm, we need wisdom, we need to work together, bring calm and make sure we de-escalate.”
Al-Jadaan appeared to be talking about the rapidly escalating war between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which began on October 7 after Hamas’s unprecedented surprise attack on southern Israel killed more than 1,300 people. Since then, retaliatory Israeli airstrikes and a full siege of the already blockaded and Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip have killed more than 6,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza health authorities.
The United Nations and several countries have called for a ceasefire, so far without success.
“We saw this in the region where before October 7 there was a lot of de-escalation, which brought a lot of hope for the region and we don’t want the recent events to derail that,” the minister said. . “So we’re making a lot of efforts with our partners to make sure we get back to where we are and continue the growth path.”
Saudi Arabia has been in the middle of US-led diplomatic talks to normalize relations with Israel, which the Biden administration has hailed as transformative for stability in the region. A major sticking point, however, was the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The United Nations classifies Israel as an occupying state in the Palestinian territorieswhose occupations and annexations after the 1967 Six-Day War still violate international law.
“For us, the Palestinian issue is very important, we have to solve this part… We hope it will reach a point where it will make life easier for the Palestinians and take Israel as a player in the Middle East.” Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman he said in an interview with Fox News in September.
In the days since Oct. 7, however, and as Israel pounds Gaza with airstrikes and Palestinian casualties mount, the possibility of such a deal seems much more remote.
Crown Prince Mohammed, the de facto leader of Saudi Arabia, appeared in favor of resuming normalization talks with Israel once the conflict ends.
In a conversation between US President Joe Biden and the Saudi crown prince, the two leaders agreed on the importance of working towards a “sustainable peace” between Israelis and Palestinians once the crisis subsides, the White House said. It added that they would “build on the work already underway between Saudi Arabia and the United States in recent months,” possibly a reference to the Biden administration’s normalization efforts.
Biden and other US officials have they said they believe the Hamas attack was carried out in part to disrupt Saudi-Israeli normalization efforts.
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