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Israel’s ongoing peace talks with Saudi Arabia emphasized by US, as tensions simmer in the Middle East

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US State Department denies reports of halted talks on Israel-Saudi normalization

The US State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs has denied reports suggesting that efforts to reach a normalization deal between Saudi Arabia and Israel had been halted. The Bureau reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to furthering Israel’s regional integration through active diplomacy aimed at Israel-Saudi normalization. Talks between the two parties are ongoing, and the US looks forward to further conversations.

Major Focus:
  • The United States’ commitment to regional integration and active diplomacy
  • Ongoing talks between Saudi Arabia and Israel
Why this matters:
  • Normalization between Israel and Arab countries has been a significant goal of the United States.
  • Reports of halted talks reflect challenges in achieving Israeli-Palestinian peace and the influence of Israeli politics on potential agreements.
What’s next:
  • The US will continue its efforts to facilitate the normalization process between Saudi Arabia and Israel.
  • Both parties will engage in further discussions to address the obstacles to a potential agreement.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud emphasized the importance of a two-state solution, stating that there can be no resolution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict without an independent Palestinian state. However, an unnamed Israeli official from the Prime Minister’s Office indicated that Saudi Arabia had informed the Biden administration of its decision to halt talks on normalizing ties with Israel. The official explained that Saudi Arabia perceives the “extremist” nature of Israel’s right-wing government, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as a hindrance to any possibility of rapprochement with the Palestinians and, consequently, with the Saudis.

It has been highlighted that Saudi Arabia was put off from pursuing a potential peace deal due to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s “acceptance” of demands made by individuals such as National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, whom the Saudis consider to be “extreme right.” This perception has had a negative impact on the willingness of the Saudi government to advance dialogue with Israel.

Last month, Foreign Minister Eli Cohen stressed in an interview with Elaph that the “Palestinian issue is not an obstacle to peace.” This indicates Israel’s position to engage in talks and work towards a resolution alongside efforts to enhance relations with its Arab neighbors.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently stated that Saudi Arabia informed the Biden administration that resolving Palestinian issues is critical for any normalization deal with Israel. Blinken emphasized that Israeli normalization with the Arab world cannot replace the necessity of resolving differences between Israel and the Palestinians for a better future for the latter. The United States believes that a two-state solution is the key to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

These developments highlight the complex dynamics surrounding the Israel-Saudi normalization process and emphasize the need for continued efforts to address obstacles in achieving a lasting peace agreement.

Sources: twitter.com, jpost.com, reuters.com

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