Saudi Arabia Insists on Palestinian Statehood Before Normalizing Ties with Israel

Monday January 22, 2024 - 13:44:37
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Staff Reporter
Washington (diplomat.so) — In a recent interview with CNN, Saudi Arabia's top diplomat, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, asserted that the kingdom will not pursue normalization of relations with Israel or contribute to Gaza's reconstruction unless there is a credible pathway to a Palestinian state. The remarks highlight a significant divergence between Saudi Arabia and Israel, posing challenges to postwar governance and reconstruction efforts in Gaza.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, under domestic pressure over Israeli hostages and facing protests, rejects the concept of Palestinian statehood and advocates for open-ended military control over Gaza. The ongoing dispute, amid the continuing conflict, has created a diplomatic impasse involving the United States and its Arab allies against Israel.

Prior to the conflict triggered by the Oct. 7 Hamas attack, the U.S. was attempting to broker a landmark agreement for Saudi Arabia to normalize relations with Israel. This deal would be contingent on U.S. security guarantees, assistance in establishing a civilian nuclear program in Saudi Arabia, and progress toward resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, the current situation has complicated these diplomatic efforts.

In response to questions about financing Gaza's reconstruction, Prince Faisal emphasized the need for a sustainable solution to avoid a return to the pre-Oct. 7 status quo. The Palestinians seek a state comprising Gaza, the Israeli-occupied West Bank, and annexed East Jerusalem, while Israel holds a different perspective, viewing Jerusalem as its capital and the West Bank as part of its historical and biblical heritage.

Meanwhile, the conflict in Gaza has resulted in significant casualties, with over 25,000 reported deaths and more than 60,000 injuries. The civilian toll has raised concerns globally, with 85% of Gaza's population displaced, hindering the delivery of humanitarian aid. The war's repercussions extend beyond the immediate region, as Iran-backed groups in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen target Israeli and U.S. interests.

In Israel, Prime Minister Netanyahu faces mounting pressure from various quarters. The conflict's objectives, including achieving "complete victory" over Hamas and securing the release of remaining hostages, have divided public opinion. Family members of hostages, protesting outside Netanyahu's residence, demand a resolution, while some call for new elections.

The U.S., Israel's top ally, urges precision in military operations, increased humanitarian aid, and broader regional support for postwar plans. Netanyahu, however, contends with a governing coalition favoring a more aggressive approach, voluntary emigration of Palestinians from Gaza, and the re-establishment of Jewish settlements.

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