Source: Jerusalem Post
Saudi Arabia has let the Biden administration know that resolving Palestinian issues is critical for any normalization deal with Israel, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday.
“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,” he said in an interview with the podcast “Pod Save the World.”
He spoke as the Biden administration has been increasingly public about its pursuit of a security pact with Saudi Arabia that would include a normalization deal with Israel. It’s expected that Israel would have to make concessions to the Palestinians as part of the deal.
Such a deal would come on top of the US-backed 2020 Abraham Accords, in which Israel agreed to suspend the annexation of West Bank settlement in exchange for normalization deals with four Arab countries: the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan.
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.
Earlier this week National Security Advisor Tzahi Hanegbi said that the Palestinians had spoken with the US, the Saudis and Israelis about a significant Palestinian component to the deal.
He said Israel favored making gestures to the Palestinians as part of that deal as long as it did harm Israeli security. The Palestinian Authority, however, has sought concessions that would not be possible for the Israeli government in its current configuration to meet, such as recognition of Palestinian statehood.
Israel’s decision to allow some eight armored replacement vehicles to be transferred to the PA security through the IDF-controlled Allenby crossing at the Jordanian border sparked a political uproar among Netanyahu’s far-right coalition members. The far-right politicians were concerned in particular about an Army Radio report that a cache of 1,500 weapons mainly rifles. Israel, the US and the PA all denied that arms had been transferred.
Even members of his own Likud party have balked at the idea of linking Israel’s foreign policy with its treatment of the Palestinians.
On Wednesday Foreign Minster Eli Cohen told his Norwegian counterpart Anniken Huitfeldt during a Jerusalem meeting that "Israel will not submit to external dictates on the issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“We will work to expand the Abrahamic agreements," he said explaining that states and entities “that will not participate in expanding and deepening the circle of peace and normalization will simply be left behind and become irrelevant."