Saudi Arabia has reiterated that it will not agree to diplomatic ties with Israel without “an end to the war in Gaza and a sovereign Palestinian state”, according to the kingdom’s foreign ministry. This comes amid reports that the US has been pushing for normalization between Saudi Arabia and Israel, potentially linked to a US-Saudi defense pact.
Saudis Refute US Claims of Openness to Israel Ties Without Palestinian State
Last week, the US claimed Saudi Arabia indicated an openness to normalizing relations with Israel without needing to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict first. However, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan al-Saud has denied this, stating clearly that an independent Palestinian state remains a prerequisite.
“Our position is very clear. We have always been committed to the Arab Peace Initiative, which stipulates that normalization comes only after Israel ends its occupation of Palestinian lands and recognizes the Palestinian state and the rights of the Palestinian people,” Prince Faisal said.
This contradicts statements made by US officials last week, claiming the Saudis were open to bypassing concrete Israeli steps on Palestinian statehood.
Defense Pact Talks Resume Ahead of 2024 US Election
The conflicting claims come amid reports that the kingdom has resumed discussions with the US on a defense pact that would include security assurances against Iran. Some sources suggest Riyadh wants a deal in place before the 2024 US elections.
According to sources, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told visiting US senators that normalization with Israel could be possible if there is a “time-bound roadmap” to Palestinian statehood.
With the US eager for Saudi-Israel ties and the kingdom sticking firmly to its demands, attention now turns to Israel’s next moves on the Palestinian front.
Saudi Arabia is unlikely to bend without concrete Israeli steps towards recognizing an independent Palestinian state. As experts discuss, this remains the major obstacle, with issues like borders and the status of Palestinian refugees still unresolved despite decades of failed negotiations.
For Israel, this presents difficult choices. Progressives call for accepting key Palestinian demands, but issues like refugees’ right of return face strong opposition within Israel. With polls showing growing Israeli public support for statehood, the window for diplomatic breakthroughs may be opening. But compromises remain elusive, and violence in Gaza further complicates efforts.
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In conclusion, while geopolitical shifts make Saudi-Israel ties seem more plausible, concrete progress remains blocked without definitive steps towards resolving the decades-long Israel-Palestine conflict. What price normalization? For Riyadh, only full recognition of an independent Palestinian state will suffice. Israel now faces growing pressure for compromise if it hopes to capitalize on emerging regional openings. The path ahead remains filled with obstacles, but the potential prizes make momentum towards peace difficult to resist.
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