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Saudi Arabia reportedly resumes defense talks with US, to include Israel normalization

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (Photo: Facebook), US President Joe Biden (Photo: Shutterstock)

The Saudi Kingdom and the United States have resumed negotiations to establish closer security ties with one another and which would include normalized relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel, according to a Bloomberg report.

The U.S.-Saudi bilateral defense collaboration talks have been put on hold due to the ongoing Iron Swords war in Gaza. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) reportedly hosted several American senators in January in the Saudi town of al-Ula.

Some Israeli and American officials were initially concerned that the Saudi decision to freeze the normalization talks meant an end to the potential establishment of diplomatic relations between the kingdom and Israel.

However, last month the Saudi Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Khalid bin Bandar Al Saud, told the BBC network that the kingdom is still interested in normalizing its diplomatic relations with Israel.

“Absolutely, there’s interest, there’s been interest since 1982 and before,” Prince Al Saud told the leading British media outlet.

Al Saud said the Saudis accept the State of Israel as a reality in the Middle East, however, he emphasized that normalization with Israel is dependent upon the establishment of a Palestinian state.

“We’ve been at this for a long time, and willing to accept Israel for a long time, it's a reality that’s there that we have to live with. But we can’t live with Israel without a Palestinian state,” he stated.

Saudi Arabia, which has been concerned that the war could expand throughout the region, has been calling for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip. While some believe the Saudi government would likely secretly welcome the dismantling of the Iranian-backed Hamas terror regime, Riyadh has been careful to avoid making any public statements that could be interpreted as supportive of Israel’s defensive war.

However, in late October, the Saudi military shot down a missile headed for Israel that had been launched by the Houthi terror militia in Yemen, another Iranian terror proxy group.

In late September, mere weeks before Hamas’ surprise invasion of Israel, MBS told Fox News anchor Bret Baier that Saudi Arabia and Israel were advancing towards a historic normalization agreement that could potentially transform the entire Middle East.

“Every day we get closer,” MBS said with optimism. While the Saudis are interested in military and technological cooperation with Israel, they have to balance this with the Saudi Kingdom's traditional role as a leader in the Sunni pan-Arab world. This perspective typically includes support for the Palestinian Authority (PA).

“The Palestinian issue was and remains the central issue for Arab countries, and it is at the top of the kingdom’s priorities,” MBS said in May 2023.

“We will not delay in providing assistance to the Palestinian people in recovering their lands, restoring their legitimate rights and establishing an independent state on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital,” he added.

While the Saudis publicly support a Palestinian state, Riyadh has signaled that it understands the complexity due to a variety of issues.

In August, MBS hosted PA President Mahmoud Abbas in Saudi Arabia in what appeared to be an offer of financial support in exchange for not opposing a Saudi normalization agreement with Israel.

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

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