Saudi Arabia freezes normalization talks with Israel – report

Saudi outlet claims that Gulf Kingdom suspends negotiations due to unwillingness of Smotrich, Ben-Gvir to grant sweeping concessions to Palestinians.

By Adina Katz, World Israel News

Saudi Arabia has suspended negotiations regarding a U.S.-brokered peace deal with Israel due to concerns over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s “extreme right” coalition partners, according to a Saudi outlet.

The Elaph newspaper reported that the Gulf kingdom has frozen talks due to worries that Netanyahu’s government will not agree to sweeping concessions to the Palestinians, which Saudi Arabia considers a major condition for a normalization agreement.

The report blamed Religious Zionist Party head Betzalel Smotrich and Otzma Yehudit chairman Itamar Ben-Gvir for being unwilling to negotiate in good faith regarding “any gestures” towards the Palestinians.

Last month, Smotrich stressed in an interview with Army Radio that he would not support a normalization agreement that included “any concessions to the Palestinians.”

He added that although Israel was interested in formalizing ties with the Gulf kingdom, such a deal “has nothing to do with Judea and Samaria.”

Citing an unnamed Israeli official, the Elaph report claimed that the U.S. had informed Jerusalem of Saudi Arabia’s decision to formally pause the negotiations.

The update left Israeli officials “confused,” the source said.

During an interview last week, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken stressed that Saudi Arabia would not agree to a normalization agreement with Israel that did not include meaningful steps towards a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“It’s… clear from what we hear from the Saudis that if this process is to move forward, the Palestinian piece is going to be very important too,” Blinken said.

On Sunday, the Saudi Foreign Ministry released a scathing statement regarding Jewish pilgrims who had ascended to the Temple Mount during the Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year) holiday.

The Ministry expressed their “condemnation and denunciation of the storming of the Al-Aqsa Mosque by a group of extremists under the protection of the Israeli occupation forces,” referring to Israeli police and army forces.