Saudi Arabia will not hold up a normalization deal with Israel if the Jewish state doesn't agree to major concessions to the Palestinians, according to three regional sources who are familiar with the talks.
“The normalization will be between Israel and Saudi Arabia. If the Palestinians oppose it the kingdom will continue in its path,” one of the sources told Reuters.
“Saudi Arabia supports a peace plan for the Palestinians, but this time it wanted something for Saudi Arabia, not just for the Palestinians.”
Riyadh would be satisfied with Israel's pledge to ease certain restrictions that would fall well short of demands for Palestinian statehood, the source added.
Such concessions might include the transfer of some Israeli-controlled territory in the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority (PA), limitations to the building of settlements and a pledge to not annex parts of the West Bank.
The Saudi Kingdom's main goal in these talks is to receive a broad security agreement from the United States, according to the source.
While this probably won’t amount to a NATO-style alliance, an American source said that the agreement could be similar to U.S. treaties with Asian states like Japan or the U.S. agreement with Bahrain, home of the U.S. Navy Fifth Fleet.
In addition, Washington could offer Riyadh the status of 'Major Non-NATO Ally,' a status that was already given to Israel and Egypt. While an Asian-style treaty would have to get passed by Congress, an agreement like the one with Bahrain would not face as many legal hurdles.
Saudi Arabia is willing to compromise on a NATO-style alliance but, in return, would demand additional guarantees for an agreement similar to the one with Bahrain.
Riyadh also showed a readiness to compromise on demands for a civil nuclear program, one source said.
On Thursday, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said the IDF and Mossad Intelligence would examine the Saudi nuclear issue before any agreement.
“Peace with Saudi Arabia is a welcome thing for Israel, but at the same time we will make every effort to hedge the risks and make sure that we are acting in the right and responsible direction,” Gallant said.
“The security system and I personally have been dealing with this issue since the beginning of the year. We have set up work teams for the issue and everything will operate on the right track through the IDF and the Mossad and then it will flow to the chief of staff and me. Every effort should be made to reach a move with Saudi Arabia,” he added.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.