According to Israeli reports, in the past 24 hours negotiations for a normalization agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia have been underway, amid US pressure and with the mediation of Bahrain.
As part of the ongoing telephone conversations, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Eli Cohen have been personally involved. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman arrived in Manama the capital of Bahrain and is holding the talks from there, mediated by the Bahraini Foreign Minister Abd Al-Latif Al-Ziani.
The ambassador of the United Arab Emirates in Israel gave Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Herzog an invitation to participate in the COP28 climate conference that will be held in November in Dubai.— The Watchman (@nspiass) May 23, 2023
ISRAEL AND SAUDI ARABIA ARE ON THE WAY TO A NORMALIZATION AGREEMENT,… pic.twitter.com/nSRB9TTnoV
Bahrain was chosen as a mediator for the agreement at the request of the Saudis. A source involved in the talks told Israeli Channel 12 News that "the negotiations are very complex" and are being conducted under pressure exerted by the White House.
According to reports in Saudi Arabia, among the main demands of the Saudi palace that came up in the negotiations is the granting of concessions to the Palestinians in the West Bank, including the relinquishment of the IDF's powers in the territories of Judea and Samaria, in favor of strengthening the activities of the Palestinian security mechanisms. The Saudis also demand that Abu Mazen and the members of the Palestinian Authority be given security powers in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, not including the Western Wall which will remain under Israel's authority.
Kinda buried the lede “No progress was made in the conversations, and MBS rejected a request from Netanyahu to meet”— JonoRose (@SirJonoRose) May 23, 2023
This is Bibi’s desperate last ditch attempt to rescue his legacy which - short of achieving normalization with the (evil but necessary) Saudis - is in tatters https://t.co/eeq8K6UOUa
It should be noted that currently due to internal Palestinian conflicts and growing terrorist organizations, the Palestinian Authority’s security forces do not fully have a grip on major cities like Jenin and Nablus; the main reason for the IDF’s heavy involvement is the lack of on behalf of the PA. These reports of Israeli-Saudi talks are also in line with US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan's statements two weeks ago that the United States is working to achieve a normalization agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia.
Report: Bahrain mediating talks between Israel, Saudis— i24NEWS English (@i24NEWS_EN) May 22, 2023
'Saudis are driving a hard bargain on the Palestinian issue, security control — very sensitive issues to Israel... They say it comes from pressure from Biden's administration,' says @owenalterman#TheRundown | @benitalevin pic.twitter.com/D8EP0EZUgq
The talks also come after it was reported that talks in regard to direct flights from Israel to the Hajj in Saudi Arabia have led to a breakthrough and that Riyadh is inclined to approve the move. Only Muslims living in Israel who wish to participate in the pilgrimage to Mecca will be allowed to board the planes, which will take off from Tel Aviv or Ramon airport. The Hajj will be held this year between June 26 and July 1. Last year, approximately 2,700 pilgrims left Israel, and this year an increase in their number is expected as a result of the direct flights and improving relations between the two countries.