Saudi Arabia pauses talks on normalisation with Israel

Amid of the conflict between Israel and the terrorist Palestinian group Hamas, Saudi Arabia has put a halt to negotiations about perhaps normalizing relations with Israel.

Hamas carried out a massive attack on Israel on October 7 which resulted in the deaths of 1,300 people. This incident sparked a retaliatory bombing campaign in Gaza that has killed at least 2,215 people and raised the possibility of an Israeli ground invasion of the region.

The news came as U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, was about to meet with his Saudi counterpart on Saturday, the latest stop on a six-nation tour of the region.

The Gulf kingdom, home to the holiest sites in Islam, has never recognised Israel and did not join the 2020 U.S.-brokered Abraham Accords that saw its Gulf neighbours Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates as well as Morocco establish formal ties with Israel.

President Joe Biden’s administration had been pushing hard in recent months for Saudi Arabia to take the same step.

Under de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, son of the ageing King Salman, Riyadh had laid out conditions for normalisation including security guarantees from Washington and help developing a civilian nuclear programme.

In an interview with Fox News last month, Prince Mohammed said “every day we get closer” to a deal, though he also insisted the Palestinian issue was “very important” for Riyadh.

“We need to solve that part. We need to ease the life of the Palestinians,” he said.

The deal was seen as a long shot by many analysts even before the war began.

“In reality, Israel was not really ready to reach an agreement with the Palestinians that would give them the minimum of their needs.”

Joost Hiltermann, Middle East director of the International Crisis Group, said there was “no way that any Arab country can seriously engage with Israel about normalising relations when their publics see what is happening in Gaza”.

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