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US and Saudi Arabia 'semi-final' security agreement could pave way for normalization with Israel

Disagreement exists between Israel and US officials over Saudi demand for Palestinian state

U.S. White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 24, 2024 (Photo: REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz).

U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan is set to wrap up his visit to Israel on Monday. 

Sullivan arrived in Israel after a visit to Saudi Arabia, where he met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) to discuss a joint security agreement between the Kingdom and the United States, which may include a path to normalization with Israel. 

“The semi-final version of the draft strategic agreements between the kingdom and the United States of America, which are almost being finalized – and what is being worked on between the two sides in the Palestinian issue to find a credible path – were discussed,” the statement released after the talks said. 

According to the statement, the “credible path” includes “a two-state solution that meets the aspirations and legitimate rights of the Palestinian people” and “the situation in Gaza and the need to stop the war there and facilitate the entry of humanitarian aid.” 

Saudi Arabia has consistently called for the creation of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital. 

This position has been echoed by the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden. In a recent visit to the region for the World Economic Forum, Blinken said: "In order to move forward with normalization, two things will be required – calm in Gaza and a credible pathway to a Palestinian state.” 

Before the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war on Oct. 7, momentum seemed to be building for a historic peace agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia, however, despite continued talks between the U.S. Saudi, and Israel, there has been little progress.

While the Biden administration has continued to push for a two-state solution as an integral part of the normalization agreement, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has continued to reject the proposal. 

Netanyahu's position is shared by others, including National Unity party leader Benny Gantz. Despite recent tensions between Netanyahu and Gantz, who serves in the Israeli War Cabinet, Gantz has also voiced opposition to the two-state solution, stating, “We will not allow any outside power, friendly or hostile, to impose a Palestinian state on us.”

Recent reports on Hebrew news sites suggest that the push for a two-state solution is driven by the Biden administration, rather than MBS.

Even Gantz’s office, in response to Netanyahu after Gantz issued his ultimatum, stated: “There is no intention to establish a Palestinian state, and this is not the demand of the Saudis.” 

Besides the issue of a Palestinian state, other concerns need to be settled before a security agreement can be established between the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Israel. 

The Saudi Kingdom has sought to include nuclear cooperation as part of the agreement with the U.S., which would allow it to enrich uranium. This option, which concerns nonproliferation experts, is also seen as a significant issue for Israel, as it views the expansion of nuclear power in the region as an existential threat. 

MBS has previously stated that Saudi Arabia would pursue a nuclear weapon if Iran developed one. 

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

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