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Blinken: Palestinian State Pathway Only Path for Successful Israeli-Saudi Normalization

Secretary of State Antony Blinken (Credits: Premium Times)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken embarked on a diplomatic tour through the Middle East, making stops in Amman, Jordan, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and Israel. His visit comes amongst efforts by the Biden administration to broker a hostage release deal with Hamas and encourage Israel to refrain from military action in Rafah.

Additionally, there are indications of a push for a normalization agreement between Saudi Arabia and Israel, with these developments seen as interconnected. Renowned New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman recently highlighted the complicated choices facing Israel in an op-ed titled “Israel Has a Choice to Make: Rafah or Riyadh.”

Antony Blinken (Credits: The Times of Israel)

He suggested that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may soon confront a decision between launching a remarkable military operation in Rafah, which could lead to U.S. restrictions on arms shipments, or pursuing a historic peace deal with Saudi Arabia.

Friedman proposed that such an agreement should involve Israeli commitments to a political pathway leading to Palestinian statehood based on a two-state solution. This dichotomy was echoed in Secretary Blinken’s remarks at the World Economic Forum in Riyadh.

He emphasized the necessity of calm in Gaza and a credible path to Palestinian statehood as prerequisites for Saudi-Israeli normalization. Blinken hinted at ongoing negotiations between the United States and Saudi Arabia, although he did not divulge specific terms.

Reports suggest that Saudi Arabia seeks a bilateral defense pact with the U.S. and assistance in developing a civil nuclear energy industry. However, tensions persist regarding the Palestinian issue. While Blinken champions the two-state solution as a means to counter Iran and Hamas, recent reports indicate divergent perspectives within the negotiations.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken (Credits: CNN)

While the Biden administration prioritizes Palestinian statehood, Saudi Arabia may be more amenable to a verbal commitment from Netanyahu rather than a concrete two-state solution.

With the clock ticking on the 2024 election timeline, there’s a sense of urgency for the Biden administration to advance regional peace efforts.

Former President Donald Trump’s recent conversation with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman hints at potential competition for brokering a peace deal. As all parties pass these difficulties, the quest for normalization and peace in the Middle East remains ongoing.

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