Journalist Majdi Halabi, a correspondent for the London-based Arabic newspaper "Elaph," reported on Sunday morning that Saudi Arabia has requested a suspension of the normalization talks with Israel. This revelation comes from a senior official in the office of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.

According to the report, the Israeli official cited two primary reasons for this development. Firstly, there is significant opposition among key officials within the Netanyahu government to making broader concessions to the Palestinian Authority. Secondly, the Saudi decision may be influenced by Netanyahu's acceptance of the demands put forth by Otzma Yehudit and Religious Zionism. Just last week, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich publicly affirmed that he and his cabinet colleague, Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, are staunchly opposed to making any concessions to the Palestinians as part of an agreement with Saudi Arabia. He stated, "We are in favor of an agreement with Saudi Arabia. It serves the interests of all parties - American, Saudi, and Israeli." However, he emphasized that "our government will not compromise on the settlement and will only strengthen it."

Furthermore, American sources have informed "Elaph" that Saudi Arabia has actively involved the Palestinians in these discussions. The purpose of this involvement is to facilitate the delineation of the border of a future Palestinian state.

It's worth noting that the Saudis have consistently emphasized that any progress in normalizing relations with them is contingent upon tangible steps being taken to address the Palestinian issue. They have indicated a willingness to wait for such an agreement with Israel. The Saudis were fully aware of the composition of the Israeli government and the inherent challenges in meeting their demands.

Contrary to these reports, Tamir Morag, a journalist from Israel's Channel 14, has cited government sources familiar with the normalization process who claim that they are unaware of any Saudi directive to halt negotiations regarding an agreement with Israel. According to Morag's sources, the current stumbling block is the ongoing negotiations between Saudi Arabia and the United States. The Saudis are demanding a defense alliance, a proposition that has garnered interest within the U.S. administration. However, passing such an agreement would require the support of a majority of 67 senators (two-thirds). At present, there is insufficient Republican support for such a move under this administration.

This report from Channel 14 aligns with Saudi Arabia's clear interest in seizing the opportunity presented during the term of U.S. President Joe Biden. Their goal is to secure security guarantees and assistance for a civilian nuclear project.

Sign Up For The Judean Newsletter

I agree with the Terms and conditions and the Privacy policy