Saudi to normalize Israel ties? Chances are remote: Report

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Riyadh is not likely to normalize relations with Tel Aviv or support a plan proposed by Washington on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict unless Israel makes significant concessions to Palestinians, a report says.

Israel’s Channel 13 on Friday cited a classified document of the Israeli Foreign Ministry in that regard, the Times of Israel reported.

An unnamed foreign ministry official familiar with the document was quoted in the report as saying that the paper contradicts Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s vision of a wider Arab-Israeli detente that will eventually lead to a peace agreement with the Palestinians.

The paper, which was distributed to Netanyahu’s office, selected ambassadors and ministry diplomats, argues that the chances of Netanyahu’s formula on brokering an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal by promoting ties with the Arab world were remote.

“It appeared there was a window of opportunity to bring about a breakthrough with Saudi Arabia, but even if there was, it is likely already closed at this point,” the unnamed official was quoted saying.

According to the official, the document, written by the ministry’s Center for Political Research, also said that management of the Palestinian portfolio was shifted from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to King Salman.

The TV report did not say what the nature of a significant concession by Israel to the Palestinians would be but it cited an unnamed US official as saying that King Salman told Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in January that he would not support Washington’s coming peace plan if it did not provide for a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem al-Quds.

The so-called deal of the century, a backchannel plan to allegedly reach a peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians, was proposed by the administration of US President Donald Trump in 2017. Although the plan has not been released, leaks signal it will consist of the same tried-and-failed ideas.

In recent years, Israel has been working to improve ties with Persian Gulf Arab states such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

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