A Saudi envoy on a rare visit to the occupied West Bank pledged on Tuesday that the Palestinian cause will be "a cornerstone" of any normalisation deal the oil-rich kingdom may strike with Israel.
The delegation headed by Nayef al-Sudairi was Saudi Arabia's first in three decades to the West Bank, which Israel has occupied along with other territories since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.
The visit comes as Washington has urged its Middle East allies Israel and Saudi Arabia to normalise diplomatic relations, following on from similar deals involving the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco.
The Palestinians have labelled those agreements a betrayal of their quest for statehood – but Sudairi sought to reassure them that Riyadh stands by their side.
"The Palestinian matter is a fundamental pillar," Sudairi told journalists after meeting top Palestinian diplomat Riyad al-Maliki in Ramallah.
"And it's certain that the Arab initiative, which was presented by the kingdom in 2002, is a cornerstone of any upcoming deal."
The 2002 initiative proposed Arab relations with Israel in exchange for its withdrawal from the West Bank, east Jerusalem, Gaza and the Golan Heights, and a just resolution for the Palestinians.
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, 87, last week again stressed strong reservations to Arab countries building ties with Israel.
"Those who think that peace can prevail in the Middle East without the Palestinian people enjoying their full, legitimate national rights would be mistaken," Abbas told the UN General Assembly in New York.
Sudairi, the Saudi envoy to Jordan, was last month also named ambassador for the Palestinian territories and consul general for Jerusalem. (AFP)