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US delegation heads to Riyadh to continue Saudi-Israel normalization push

Palestinian delegation will be in town at the same time

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, June 6, 2023. (Photo: Bandar Algaloud/Courtesy of Saudi Royal Court/Handout via REUTERS)

A delegation of top American officials will travel to Saudi Arabia this week to continue the discussions about a possible normalization of relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel, the Times of Israel reported.

The delegation visit, led by White House Middle East czar Brett McGurk, comes amid negotiations between the United States and Saudi Arabia for a broad security agreement that could include establishing relations between Riyadh and Jerusalem.

Alongside McGurk, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf and other officials will continue the discussions following U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan's visit to Saudi Arabia a month ago and a separate visit by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in June.

During McGurk and Leaf’s to the Saudi Kingdom, a Palestinian delegation will also be in Riyadh.

The delegation, to be led by Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee Sec.-Gen. Hussein al-Sheikh will reportedly discuss what the Palestinian side hopes to obtain from a Saudi-Israeli normalization deal. The Times of Israel reported last week that the Palestinian Authority (PA) seeks to secure concessions that will be “irreversible” and serve as a stepping stone to statehood.

Among the proposed steps, the PA hopes to receive U.S. backing for recognition of Palestinian statehood at the United Nations; the reopening of the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem that historically served Palestinians; the transfer of West Bank territory from Israeli to Palestinian control, or the razing of illegal outposts in the West Bank.

According to Israeli Army Radio, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant recently presented McGurk and other White House officials with a list of Israeli concerns over a possible Saudi nuclear program, allegedly stating some of the conditions set out by the kingdom ahead of any normalization deal.

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

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