Saudi-Israeli ties hinge on steps toward Palestinian state, Blinken says | ET REALITY


Before October 7, major discussions on a long-term normalization agreement had taken place between Riyadh and Washington, with the Saudis asking for significant security commitments from Washington. But Blinken’s remarks reveal that the terms have changed, marking the first time since serious talks began last year that a senior US official has explicitly linked Palestinian statehood to normalization between Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Prospects for a tripartite agreement between those two countries and the United States, floated by the Biden administration early last year, have been dimmed by the war.

Citizens of Saudi Arabia and other parts of the Arab world are outraged at Israel, given its destruction of most of Gaza and the killing of around 23,000 people, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry. And many Israelis are reluctant to grant Palestinians greater rights or give in to a Palestinian state, with its own army and arsenal, given the horrors of October 7, when Hamas fighters killed some 1,200 people in southern Israel. most of them civilians, according to Israeli officials.

But Blinken pressed ahead on Tuesday, hinting at the possibility of normalizing ties in an effort to try to get Israel to reduce military operations in Gaza and consider a far-reaching political solution.

“I hope to be able to share with you some of what I have heard from countries in the region,” Foreign Minister Katz said in public remarks to Israel Katz before the start of their meeting on Tuesday morning. “I know of your own efforts, over many years, to build much better connectivity and integration in the Middle East, and I think there are actually real opportunities there.”

“But we have to get through this very challenging time and ensure that October 7 never happens again and work to build a very different and much better future,” he added.

Arab leaders are moving forward with their own diplomacy in the war. Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, plans to travel to Jordan for a summit on Wednesday with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt and King Abdullah II of Jordan to discuss the situation in Gaza, Jordan’s state news agency reported. . Blinken also plans to meet Abbas on his trip.

Before flying to Israel on Monday night, Blinken told reporters in the desert oasis city of Al Ula, Saudi Arabia, that Saudi ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had told him in a meeting there that The Saudis still had “a clear interest” in trying to normalize diplomatic relations with Israel.

But there were at least two conditions for that, Blinken said: the end of Israel’s military offensive in Gaza and Israel’s agreement to take practical steps to establish a Palestinian state.

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