Middle East Monitor / August 27, 2023
The United States has told Israel that it must make real concessions for the Palestinians if it is to pursue and establish a deal to normalize relations with Saudi Arabia, amid continued negotiations between Tel Aviv and Riyadh.
In a report by the news outlet Axios, which cited current and former US officials, it was revealed that Secretary of State Antony Blinken informed Israel’s Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer during his recent visit to Washington that Israel is “misreading the situation” if it believes it does not have to grant concessions to the Palestinians in order to satisfy Saudi Arabia in a potential deal.
US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan also reportedly told Dermer that President Joe Biden seeks extensive support from congressional Democrats for a Saudi-Israeli normalization agreement, with concessions to Palestinians being a primary way of ensuring that takes place.
According to the report, however, the Israeli minister insisted that Tel Aviv’s agreement to allow Riyadh to develop a civilian nuclear program is already enough of a concession and gesture to the kingdom, therefore refusing to offer any Israeli guarantee of more open policy toward Palestinians and their statehood.
The report comes at a time when negotiations between Saudi Arabia and Israel – brokered by the US – for a normalization deal have somewhat stalled in recent months, with Israeli hopes for the Gulf kingdom’s recognition being dismayed by its demand for Palestinian rights and statehood as a primary condition.
In the meeting with Dermer, Blinken reportedly stressed that the concessions to Palestinians are necessary as a demonstration of tangible results to other Arab and Muslim countries, encouraging their normalization with Israel.