Saudi Arabia halts normalization talks with Israel over Palestine: Report

Riyadh has reportedly informed Washington of its decision to suspend all negotiations on normalizing relations with Tel Aviv due to the far-right Israeli cabinet’s unwillingness to make any concessions to the Palestinians. The London-based Elaph online newspaper, citing an Israeli official, reported on Sunday that Washington has informed Tel Aviv of Riyadh’s stance that the “extremist” nature of the occupying regime led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is “torpedoing any possibility of rapprochement with the Palestinians, and therefore with the Saudis.” It went on to say that Israeli officials were “confused” by the decision, given that they believed the Saudis would move ahead with normalizing ties with Israel without relating it to the Palestinian issue. The report further noted that the Saudis were discouraged after Netanyahu accepted the demands of hawkish Israeli ministers Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich to not make any concessions to Palestinians. Therefore, it added, without any rapprochement with the Palestinians, there could be no progress with the Saudis. US President Joe Biden declared on July 28 that a deal for Israel and Saudi Arabia to normalize relations may be on the horizon following National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan’s talks with Saudi officials in Jeddah. In order to sign a deal with Israel, Riyadh publicly asked Tel Aviv to implement the 2002 so-called Arab Peace Initiative to establish a Palestinian state first. However, members of the far-right Israeli regime, led by Netanyahu, say they will not make any concession to the Palestinians as part of a potential deal for normalization of relations with Saudi Arabia. Last week, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken stated that Saudi Arabia has let the Biden administration know that resolving Palestinian issues is critical for any normalization deal with Israel. In addition, according to US officials, the Saudis are privately asking the US to guarantee the kingdom’s security in the event of an attack and provide access to civilian nuclear technology, as well as more advanced US weapons systems. Washington’s efforts for adding Saudi Arabia to the list of Arab countries that have signed the Abraham Accords come at a critical time when Biden is seeking re-election and the US government has been left embarrassed by the kingdom’s bolstering of ties with Iran and Syria, and its further gravitation toward China. The UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco signed US-brokered normalization agreements with Israel in 2020, drawing condemnations from Palestinians who slammed the deals as “a stab in the back of the Palestinian cause and the Palestinian people.”