Iran-Saudi deal to restore ties seen as diplomatic blow in Israel

A senior Israeli official blamed a weak Biden administration combined with the failed foreign policy of the previous Israeli Bennett-Lapid government.

By World Israel News Staff

A day after Saudi Arabia outlined its conditions for a normalization agreement with Israel, the Gulf kingdom on Friday restored ties with the Jewish state’s archnemesis, Iran.

In a deal brokered by Beijing, Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed to reestablish diplomatic ties and reopen embassies within the next two months.

The deal comes amid diplomatic attempts to end a yearslong war in Yemen, in which Iran and Saudi Arabia are on opposing sides.

On Thursday, Saudi Arabia laid out its demands from the U.S. in return for establishing diplomatic ties with Israel, which would include support for a civilian nuclear program, fewer restrictions on arms sales, and security guarantees. Of note, the list of demands did not include Palestinian statehood as a precondition for signing a peace deal with Israel – something that Saudi Arabia has on several occasions emphasized would be a prerequisite.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not respond to the news about Saudi Arabia’s demands. Earlier in the day, an interview with the Israeli premier was published by Italy’s La Repubblica newspaper in which he said that he hoped to sign a peace deal with the Saudis, and that he believed that doing so would “lead to an agreement with the Palestinians.”

Read  Libyan FM fired over Israel meeting that her office says premier authorized

The news of the Iran-Saudi deal came as a blow to Israeli lawmakers, with both opposition and coalition figures pointing the blame at the other.

A senior official traveling with Netanyahu on a visit to Rome said the deal was the result of a weak Biden administration combined with the failed foreign policy of the previous Israeli government led by current opposition leader Yair Lapid, and then-alternate prime minister Naftali Bennett.

“There was a feeling of American and Israeli weakness, so Saudi Arabia turned to other channels,” he said, and went on to claim that the Iran-Saudi talks began in 2021, even though some reports show earlier talks on rapprochement.

He went on to suggest that talks between Israel and Saudi Arabia were still occurring behind closed doors. “What happens on the diplomatic level is not what happens under the surface,” the official said.

Lapid, for his part, said the Iran-Saudi deal was a “dangerous” development for Israel and that the blame lay squarely with Netanyahu.

“The agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran reflects the complete and dangerous failure of the Israeli government’s foreign policy,” Lapid said. “This is what happens when they are dealing with legal malarkey and not on Iran, not on the terror attacks, not on the economy, not the cost of living. All they care about is destroying democracy and tearing the people apart.”

Read  Federal court says parents have no right to opt kids out of LGBT curriculum

Bennett also called the deal a “a serious and dangerous development.”

“It represents a critical blow to efforts to build a regional coalition against Iran,” Bennett tweeted, and added that it constituted a “resounding failure of the Netanyahu government.”