Saudis expect major concessions to Palestinians for Israel peace deal: Blinken

As a leader in the Islamic world, Saudi Arabia will need to win major concessions from Israel regarding the Palestinians before Riyadh agrees to normalization, a senior Biden administration official said.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News Staff

Following weeks of reports that Saudi Arabia and Israel are inching closer to a historic normalization agreement, the Biden administration is signaling that such a deal will come to fruition only if it includes major Israeli concessions to the Palestinians.

According to an Axios report, Secretary of State Tony Blinken recently told Ron Dermer, a senior adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, that Israel is “misreading the situation” if it believes a peace agreement is possible without sweeping gestures towards the Palestinians.

Saudi Arabia has long maintained that it would not agree to normalize relations with Israel until it agrees to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

Blinken reportedly said in the meeting with Dermer that Saudi Arabia “will need to show the Arab and Muslim world that it got significant deliverables from Israel regarding the Palestinians in return for a normalization agreement.”

Dermer also allegedly confirmed that Israel would not oppose the establishment of a Saudi civilian nuclear energy program in exchange for normalization. That effort would be aided and supervised by the U.S. and would include requirements that the Gulf Kingdom not refine its own uranium reserves, a step that precludes the creation of a nuclear weapon.

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Notably, Riyadh has also floated the idea of pursuing a nuclear energy program backed by China, which would have no restrictions on uranium refinement.

Saudi and American officials are currently “negotiating the details of an agreement they hope to cement within 9-to-12 months,” the Wall Street Journal reported.

The Axios report comes weeks after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced plans for a high-speed rail that would link the Gulf Kingdom and the Jewish state, although that proclamation was not confirmed by Saudi officials.