Saudi Crown Prince MBS suggests that normalization with Israel is drawing nearer

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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) has mentioned that Saudi Arabia is moving closer to normalizing relations with Israel, following similar steps taken by other Gulf nations. This comes as the United States is actively involved in pushing for a Saudi-Israeli agreement.

In an interview with US broadcaster Fox News, MBS stated, “Every day, we get closer,” when discussing the potential normalization. The US government, under President Joe Biden, is actively working to facilitate ties between these two regional powers, both of which are significant US allies in the Middle East.

The normalization discussions are part of broader negotiations that include potential concessions from Israel to the Palestinians, as well as talks about US security assurances and civilian nuclear assistance requested by Riyadh.

MBS emphasized the importance of resolving the Palestinian issue, saying, “We need to solve that part,” when asked about the conditions for normalization. He expressed hope that this would benefit the Palestinians and involve Israel as a player in the Middle East.

US officials see the potential for a regional agreement as a foreign policy achievement, particularly as Biden seeks re-election in 2024.

MBS also mentioned that if Iran were to obtain a nuclear weapon, Saudi Arabia would feel compelled to acquire one. Saudi Arabia and Israel have had a history of adversarial relations with Iran, although ties have somewhat improved since diplomatic relations were restored in March.

The interview with Fox’s anchor, Bret Baier, was MBS’s first on US television since 2019. Saudi Arabia has faced controversy, especially in light of allegations regarding MBS’s involvement in the 2018 killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

This interview followed a meeting between President Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, where both leaders pledged to collaborate on advancing Israeli-Saudi normalization, potentially reshaping Middle East geopolitics. They also underscored their shared stance on preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

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