Israel, Saudi Arabia moving towards ‘framework’ for deal: US

WASHINGTON: Israel and Saudi Arabia are moving towards the outline of a historic US-brokered deal to normalize relations after decades of hostility, the White House said on Friday.

President Joe Biden is hoping to transform the Middle East — and score an election-year diplomatic victory — by securing recognition of the Jewish state by Saudi Arabia, the guardian of Islam’s two holiest sites.

“All sides have hammered out, I think, a basic framework for what, you know, what we might be able to drive at,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters.

“But, as in any complex arrangement, as this will inevitably be, everybody is going to have to do something. And everybody is going to have to compromise on some things.”

The United States has urged its Middle East allies Israel and Saudi Arabia to normalize diplomatic relations, following on from similar deals involving the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco.

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and de facto ruler, Mohammed bin Salman, recently said that the two sides were getting closer, as did Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Saudi Arabia has been seeking security guarantees, including reportedly a treaty, with the United States in return for normalizing with Israel.

But the Palestinians have warned that they must be taken into account in any deal, saying there can be no peace in the Middle East without a two-state solution.

Earlier this week, at the UNGA, Netanyahu said he believed his country was on the cusp of peace with Saudi Arabia, predicting it could be clinched by US President Joe Biden and reshape the Middle East.

Yet, amid urging by Riyadh and Washington that the Palestinians be included in the diplomacy, Netanyahu told the UNGA in New York that Palestinians should not be allowed to veto the regional dealmaking.

Expectations that Israel might normalize relations with Saudi Arabia, the home of Islam’s two holiest shrines, have been ratcheted up this week. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said a deal was getting closer by the day and Netanyahu and Biden held a long-awaited meeting to discuss the prospects.

Netanyahu described as a precursor the 2020 normalization accords between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, known as the Abraham Accords and sponsored by then-U.S. President Donald Trump.

“There’s no question: The Abraham Accords heralded the dawn of a new age of peace,” he said. “I believe we’re on the cusp of a more dramatic breakthrough: A historic peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia.”

Such a deal would likely require broad support among US lawmakers – a tall order with a presidential election in 2024.

Muslim countries and Israel relations

Israeli media outlets had cited Foreign Minister Eli Cohen as implying that “six or seven” Islamic nations were likely to normalise ties with Israel, after Saudi Arabia’s potential inclusion in the Abraham Accords, which the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan have already signed.

According to media reports, the Israeli minister had claimed to have met with leaders from several Muslim countries, which have not recognised Israel yet. His statement has sparked a debate about which Muslim countries will establish relations with Israel.

However, Cohen did not mention the names of those seven countries due to the situation in Libya, international affairs experts believe.Jalil, in response to the Israeli FM’s assertion, clarified that Cohen has not met with any Pakistani official in recent times.


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