The US State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs denied reports that efforts to reach a normalization deal between Saudi Arabia and Israel had been halted on Monday.
The United States remains committed to furthering Israel's regional integration, including through active diplomacy aimed at Israel-Saudi normalization. Talks are ongoing, and we look forward to further conversations with both parties.— U.S. State Dept - Near Eastern Affairs (@StateDept_NEA) September 18, 2023
“The United States remains committed to furthering Israel’s regional integration, including through active diplomacy aimed at Israel-Saudi normalization. Talks are ongoing, and we look forward to further conversations with both parties,” the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs posted on X.
Saudi foreign minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud said in remarks to state TV on Monday that there will be no solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict without an independent Palestinian state.
"The two-state solution must return to the forefront," he added.
The Arab news outlet Elaph recently cited an unnamed Israeli official in the Prime Minister’s Office as saying that Saudi Arabia had informed the Biden administration of its decision to halt all talks of normalizing ties with Israel on Sunday.
According to the Elaph report, Riyadh issued a message through the US, explaining that the “extremist” nature of Israel’s right-wing government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is “torpedoing any possibility of rapprochement with the Palestinians, and thus with the Saudis.”
Furthermore, the report specified that Saudi Arabia was put off from a potential peace deal due to Netanyahu’s “acceptance” of demands made by the likes of National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who the Saudis see as “extreme right.”
Antony Blinken: Palestinian issue is critical for peace deal
Last week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that Saudi Arabia informed the Biden administration that resolving Palestinian issues is critical for any normalization deal with Israel.
“It is also clear from what we hear from the Saudis that if this process is to move forward, the Palestinian piece is going to be very important too,” Blinken said on Wednesday in an interview with the podcast Pod Save the World.
Israeli normalization with the Arab world and “any of the efforts that are going on to improve relations between Israel and its neighbors can not be a substitute for Israel and the Palestinians resolving their differences and having a much better future for Palestinians,” Blinken said.
“In our judgment that needs to involve a two-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he explained.
Last month, Foreign Minister Eli Cohen stressed in an interview with Elaph that the “Palestinian issue is not an obstacle to peace.”
Reuters contributed to this report.