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Israel denies Saudi ties talks on hold

News Report
Tuesday, Sep 19, 2023

TEL AVIV: Israeli and US officials have denied reports that Saudi Arabia has put talks with the US on Israel normalisation on hold, The New Arab reported.

The Saudi-affiliated news website Elaph claimed that Riyadh had put all discussions on normalisation on ice, citing the refusal by extremist ministers in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to grant any concessions to Palestinians.

An American and Israeli official both denied the reports that the Saudi normalisation efforts had been frozen, according to The Times of Israel.

Elaph on Sunday claimed that an official from Netanyahu’s office confirmed that Saudi Arabia has informed Washington of its decision to suspend all talks related to normalisation with Israel due to the deadlock.

The London-based Saudi-affiliated outlet cited US sources as saying: “Saudi Arabia introduced the Palestinians into the [normalisation] talks in an intelligent way to ensure that it would have the decision on the nature and timing of any agreement with Israel.”

This would allow the Palestinians to gain concessions regarding the borders of the future state, unlike with the 2020 Abraham Accords between Israel, the UAE, and other Arab states, which failed to bring any benefits to the Palestinians, the source said.

Elaph quoted an Israeli expert as saying that Netanyahu was deeply upset over the breakdown of normalisation talks with Saudi Arabia; suggesting that Israeli officials previously believed that Saudi Arabia would normalise ties without bringing up the Palestinian issue.

Normalisation with Israel is highly controversial across the Arab world and Palestinians slammed the Abraham Accords as a betrayal of their cause, saying that they rewarded Israel while it continued to occupy the West Bank and besiege the Gaza Strip.

US President Joe Biden said on CNN in early July that Israel and Saudi Arabia were a long way from a normalisation agreement. There have been previous reports that the normalisation deal would involve a US-Saudi defence treaty and US-Israeli approval for a Saudi civilian nuclear programme.