In a significant development, Saudi Arabia has reportedly suspended talks aimed at normalising relations with Israel. This decision, as per an Arab news outlet, comes in response to concerns over Israel’s political landscape, specifically the perceived influence of its right-wing government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Details of the Decision:
According to an unconfirmed report cited by the Arab news outlet Elaph, Riyadh communicated its decision to halt talks through diplomatic channels with the United States. The message conveyed Saudi Arabia’s reservations regarding what it described as the “extremist” nature of Israel’s government. This stance is believed to have obstructed any potential reconciliation efforts with the Palestinians and, consequently, with the Saudis.
Furthermore, the report points out that Saudi Arabia was dissuaded from pursuing a peace deal due to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s apparent alignment with demands from figures such as National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, both of whom Saudi Arabia views as “extreme right.”
US Involvement and Perspective:
Last week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken weighed in on the situation, highlighting the importance of addressing Palestinian concerns as a prerequisite for any normalization deal with Israel. He emphasized that while progress was being made in normalizing relations between Israel and some Arab nations, it could not substitute the fundamental need for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“In our judgment, that needs to involve a two-state solution,” Blinken stated firmly, underscoring the long-standing diplomatic goal for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.
It’s worth noting that Foreign Minister Eli Cohen previously expressed a different perspective, stating that the “Palestinian issue is not an obstacle to peace.” However, the recent developments suggest a divergence of opinion between regional actors involved in the negotiations.
The suspension of talks between Saudi Arabia and Israel marks a significant development in the complex landscape of Middle East diplomacy. While the details remain unconfirmed, the decision underscores the intricate challenges and political nuances involved in achieving peace and normalisation in the region.