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Biden says Saudi-Israel peace deal may be in the works again

The Saudi's demand for concessions to Palestinians could be the main obstacle

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, US President Joe Biden (Photo: Facebook, GPO, Shutterstock)

U.S. President Joe Biden said a peace agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia may now be forthcoming.

“There’s a rapprochement that may be underway,” Biden said during a presidential reelection campaign event in Maine on Friday but didn’t provide any additional details.

Saudis have so far resisted efforts by Washington to enter into a peace deal with Israel, reportedly waiting for “a clear Israeli move toward the Palestinians.”

Last week, U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan reportedly met with Saudi officials in Jeddah to once again discuss a normalization in relations between the Kingdom and Israel.

Following the meeting, Sullivan and Middle East envoy Brett McGurk reportedly “expressed cautious optimism that progress could be made” and believe Saudi Arabia would be willing to sign a normalization agreement similar to the historic Abraham Accords that were signed in 2020 between Israel and four Arab nations: Morocco, Sudan, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

However, a Times of Israel report revealed that, once again, Saudi Arabia is expecting “significant concessions” to the Palestinians on Israel’s part and wants to see “action on the ground” versus promises.

In addition, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman allegedly wants to secure U.S. cooperation in purchasing more advanced weaponry and defense systems to counter the Iranian nuclear threat.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said an Israeli-Saudi deal “could be very close if the Saudis want it, it’s up to them,” during a Fox News interview published on Friday.

“I think this is a great thing if we have it. We will have tremendous economic benefits, it will have tremendous strategic benefits. It will be a blow to Iran and a boon to Israel and the U.S .and the Arab world as well,” Netanyahu said.

The Israeli prime minister also said such a deal could be the “pivot of history” with the potential to “effectively end the Arab-Israeli conflict and enable us to end the Palestinian-Israel conflict.”

“The Palestinians, who refuse to recognize Israel in any boundary, are only 2% of the Arab world. If we make peace with the other 98%, the Palestinians will stop believing that one day the broad mass of the Arab world will destroy or dissolve Israel and that will bring them into a more realistic position,” Netanyahu said during the interview.

Just weeks ago, during a CNN interview, Biden said his administration is in regular contact with Riyadh about the subject of normalization but added, “We're a long way from there. We got a lot to talk about.”

Netanyahu has long been working on a Saudi-Israel deal, recognizing that such an agreement would likely be dependent upon progress between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.  

During his political campaign in late 2022, the prime minister vowed to forge peace with the Saudi Kingdom if elected again as prime minister.

“If I return to lead the State of Israel on your behalf, I intend to bring about full peace agreements with Saudi Arabia and also with other Arab countries,” Netanyahu said in a televised statement at the time.

However, in March, a Saudi-Iran peace deal brokered by China was announced, ending seven years of hostilities between the two Arab nations and the re-establishment of diplomatic ties.

Despite this blow to what was considered the potential to become the mother of all peace deals, by May, U.S. mediation led to intensified communications between Israel and the Saudi Kingdom regarding a normalization agreement.

At that time, Sullivan revealed that a potential Saudi-Israeli normalization agreement was an important American national security interest.

Yet another blow to the potential Israel-Saudi deal resurfaced in June and the U.S. had already lowered its expectations about such an agreement, believing that Israel could only pursue peace with the PA if it first makes peace with more Arab nations.

New York columnist Thomas Friedman, wrote on Thursday that the concessions the Saudi Kingdom is looking for may, indeed, be more than what Netanyahu and his government are willing to entertain, including transferring portions of the West Bank currently under Israel’s control to the PA, as well as a promise to never annex portions of the West Bank and to halt any new Jewish settlement construction.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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