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Blinken Asserts Palestinian State Pathway as Crucial for Israeli-Saudi Normalization

Secretary of State Antony Blinken (Credits: Premium Times)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s recent visit to Israel followed stops in Jordan and Saudi Arabia as the Biden administration pursues a multifaceted diplomatic effort in the region.

A key goal is to secure a hostage release deal with Hamas and dissuade Israel from military action in Rafah while also pushing for a Saudi-Israeli normalization agreement. According to reports, these objectives are interconnected.

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, known for his White House ties, wrote that Israel faces a choice between a military operation in Rafah, which could lead to US arms restrictions and a historic peace deal with Saudi Arabia, contingent on a commitment to a two-state solution and Palestinian statehood.

Blinken echoed this sentiment at the World Economic Forum in Riyadh, stating that Saudi-Israeli normalization requires calm in Gaza and a credible pathway to Palestinian statehood.

Antony Blinken (Credits: The Times of Israel)

The US and Saudi Arabia are nearly finalizing their agreements, including a bilateral defense pact and US assistance in building a Saudi civil nuclear energy industry. However, if Israel resists the two-state solution, the Saudis may pursue a US-Saudi pact unrelated to normalization with Israel.

Blinken believes that Israeli normalization with regional countries and the realization of a Palestinian state would be a significant rebuke to Iran and Hamas, who oppose a two-state solution.

However, a recent Wall Street Journal report suggested that Palestinian statehood is a demand mainly from the Biden administration, not the Saudis, who may accept a verbal agreement from Israel to renew talks on Palestinian statehood as part of the normalization deal.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken (Credits: CNN)

With the 2024 election clock ticking, the Biden administration is eager to secure a normalization deal. Still, the complexity of the issues and the interconnected nature of the diplomatic efforts make a swift resolution challenging.

The involvement of former President Donald Trump, who reportedly spoke with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, adds another layer of intrigue to the situation, as Trump may seek to broker a peace deal.

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