Saudi Arabia has reportedly put its plans to normalize relations with Israel on hold due to Israel’s ongoing conflict with Palestinian Hamas militants. The deal, which was brokered by the US, would have been a significant diplomatic achievement for Washington and a strategic setback for Iran.
Prior to the surprise attack by Hamas on Israel, Saudi Arabia and Israel were getting closer to finalizing a deal that would have involved the Sunni kingdom recognizing Israel. In exchange, Saudi Arabia would have gained a defense pact with the US and access to more advanced American weapons. However, the specific terms of the deal had not yet been worked out, according to the White House.
Following Israel’s continuous bombing of Gaza since the attack, and with reports of an imminent invasion, Saudi officials decided to pause the deal to avoid triggering anger across the Muslim world. This decision was motivated by a desire to not be seen as supporting Israel’s actions against the Palestinians, according to two sources close to Riyadh.
It is important to note that the suspension of the deal is temporary, and Saudi Arabia is likely to require significant concessions from Israel towards the Palestinians in any future agreement.
The current conflict between Israel and Hamas has resulted in the deaths of nearly 2,000 people, including 583 children, from Israeli airstrikes on Gaza, as reported by the Palestinian Health Ministry. On the Israeli side, more than 1,300 people have died since the start of the conflict, with over 100 believed to be in Hamas captivity in Gaza.
Israel’s heavy-handed response, including the imposition of a total siege on Gaza, has brought Muslim countries in the region closer together. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi even held a phone conversation, their first since re-establishing diplomatic ties in March. Iranian state media reported that they discussed the need to end war crimes against Palestine, while Saudi state media said that the prince promised to make all possible efforts to stop the ongoing escalation.
It is worth noting that Iran strongly opposed the planned normalization deal between Saudi Arabia and Israel. The deal would have brought together Iran’s two primary regional opponents and strengthened their alliance with the US. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has warned the Arab world against normalizing relations with what he calls the “Zionist regime” in Israel. He even referred to Israel as a “cancer” that will be eradicated by the Palestinian people and resistance forces in the region.
In conclusion, Saudi Arabia has temporarily suspended its plans to normalize relations with Israel due to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. The deal is not permanently scrapped but is likely to require significant concessions from Israel towards the Palestinians in any future agreement. The current situation has also brought Muslim countries in the region closer together and has been met with opposition from Iran.