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Saudi asked US to halt Israel's Greater Jerusalem Bill

Settlement constructions by Israel continue in east of Jerusalem [Daniel Bar On/Anadolu]
Settlement constructions by Israel continue in east of Jerusalem [Daniel Bar On/Anadolu]

Saudi Arabia pressured Israel via the US to delay a vote on a bill that would see West Bank settlements merged with East Jerusalem, Saudi newspaper Al-Watan has reported.

The newspaper quoted a senior White House official who affirmed that Saudi diplomats met with US President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, together with Deputy National Security Advisor Dina Powell and Special Envoy for the Peace Process Jason Greenblatt to call for a vote on the "Greater Jerusalem Bill" to be halted.

The legislation would see five illegal settlement towns in the West Bank incorporated into the Jerusalem administration as "daughter municipalities".

Saudi Arabia's sentiment was reportedly supported by Washington, who believes that such a move would threaten the region's peace process. The US official added that the diplomats discussed the renewal of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, which have stalled.

On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that a vote on the bill would be delayed, after the US refused to back the move, saying such action would be tantamount to annexation.

Read: 'Saudi Arabia's relation with Israel not based on politics'

This is the second time in recent months that Saudi Arabia has claimed to have intervened via the US on Israeli policies, the first being during the Al-Aqsa Mosque crisis in July. State media cited the personal involvement of King Salman in ensuring Israel reopened the compound to Muslim worshippers without restriction.

Saudi's most recent statement comes a week after Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman denied reports that he had visited Israel in September; the latest in a series of rumours alleging increased ties between the two states.

The normalising of relations between the two countries remains a proposal that has repeatedly been rejected by the Saudi public.

Saudi officials insist that settling the Palestinian issue must take place before any diplomatic relationship can be forged, but many commentators allege that unofficial cooperation has long taken place under the table.

Read: Israel companies in talks to invest in Saudi Arabia's 'smart city'

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Asia & AmericasIsraelMiddle EastNewsPalestineSaudi ArabiaUS
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