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Progress Made in Israel-Saudi Arabia Relations: Implementation Expected by Early 2024

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The Possibility of Israel-Saudi Arabia Relations by Early Next Year

The Israeli Foreign Minister stated on Thursday that the US-brokered framework agreement to establish relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia may be implemented by early next year. This follows indications of progress in the complex negotiations between the three countries.

Significance of Israeli-Saudi Normalization

A potential normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia would have a significant impact on the Middle East. It would bring together two key US partners in the region to collectively confront Iran. This foreign policy development could be advantageous for President Joe Biden as he seeks re-election in late 2024.

Optimism from Biden and Saudi Crown Prince

Both President Biden and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman expressed optimism about the prospects of reaching an agreement. Biden expressed his positive outlook during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the United Nations General Assembly. The Saudi Crown Prince stated that they are getting closer to reaching an agreement every day.

Challenges in the Negotiations

However, there are several challenges that need to be addressed in the negotiations. One of these challenges is Saudi Arabia’s pursuit of a civilian nuclear program, which poses a test for American and Israeli policy. Additionally, both Saudi Arabia and the United States advocate for the Palestinians to make gains under any agreement, which is not favorable to Netanyahu’s hard-right government in Israel.

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Potential Timeline and Implications

Foreign Minister Eli Cohen mentioned that while it will take time, it is possible to close the gaps and reach a stage where the details of the agreement will be finalized. He projected that this could happen in the first quarter of 2024, allowing the Biden administration to pass a review period in the US Congress and Senate before the presidential election in November.

Rare Optimism and Netanyahu’s Perspective

On Wednesday, Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the United States expressed optimism about the potential normalization of relations. Iran, their common enemy, accused Saudi Arabia of betraying the Palestinians through the US-backed operation. Netanyahu, despite his tense relations with Biden, believed that the agreement was within reach and credited the US President for it.

Views from Saudi Crown Prince

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in an interview with Fox News, confirmed that the talks with Israel were progressing and denied reports of a suspension. He emphasized the importance of resolving the Palestinian issue and making life easier for Palestinians. He also highlighted Saudi Arabia’s vigilance towards Iran, a country that poses a threat to both Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Iran’s Perspective and Recent History

Iran denies seeking a nuclear weapon and has improved its relations with Saudi Arabia in recent months. However, tensions between the two countries remain, especially after the 2019 drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities that were attributed to Iran. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi warned that any agreement aimed at bringing security to Israel would be detrimental to the Palestinian people and their resistance.

In conclusion, the potential normalization of relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia has significant implications for the Middle East. While challenges exist, progress is being made, and a timeline for implementation has been proposed. The involvement of the US and the ongoing dynamics with Iran add further complexity to the negotiations.

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