Saudi Crown Prince prioritizes Palestinian issues in path to normalizing Israel tiestext_fields
Riyadh: The strained relationship between Saudi Arabia and Israel, stemming from Israel's continued occupation of Palestine in violation of international norms and frequent raids on the Aqsa mosque, is said to be thawing with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince announcing progress in the normalization of relations.
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, made a rare appearance in a Western media interview with Fox News, revealing that the prospect of normalized relations with Israel is "getting closer every day,” but emphasising the importance of addressing the Palestinian issue, a longstanding concern in the Arab world.
With the Biden administration’s initiative, Riyadh is exploring the possibility of normalizing relations with Israel, contingent on a formal defence pact with the United States and assistance in developing a civilian nuclear program.
However, Saudi Arabia, a linchpin in the Sunni Muslim world, has refrained from recognizing Israel until a resolution to the Palestinian conflict is achieved. Palestinian officials argue that these agreements, known as the Abraham Accords, undermine the prospects of peace and a two-state solution.
This significant development comes following a meeting between President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during which both leaders expressed optimism about the potential deal.
Netanyahu's office highlighted the possibility of establishing an "economic corridor" linking Asia, the Middle East, and Europe through such an agreement.
Israel's Foreign Minister, Eli Cohen, suggested that formal relations with Riyadh could materialize by the first quarter of 2024, allowing sufficient time for ratification by the U.S. Congress and Senate before the upcoming presidential election.
However, the road to normalization is laden with obstacles. The occupied West Bank is currently experiencing the worst violence in two decades, while the Palestinian Authority remains deeply unpopular among its people. Moreover, Netanyahu's far-right coalition partners vehemently oppose any concessions to the Palestinians and advocate for annexing the entire West Bank.
In their meeting, President Biden urged Netanyahu to address the deteriorating conditions in the Palestinian territories. Additionally, he expressed concerns about potential changes to Israel's democratic system, alluding to the ongoing domestic crisis sparked by the government's proposed judiciary overhaul.