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Israel: normalisation with Saudi Arabia a ‘matter of time’

May 22, 2023 at 9:25 am

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen [Israel Foreign Ministry/Anadolu Agency]

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen has said that normalisation of ties with Saudi Arabia is just a “matter of time,” the Jerusalem Post reported late last week. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said the newspaper, insists that the normalisation of ties with Saudi Arabia is a priority.

“It’s not a matter of if, but of when,” explained Cohen. “We and Saudi Arabia have the same interests.”

The foreign minister pointed out that Saudi Arabia and Israel both consider Iran to be an existential enemy. The recent reconciliation between Riyadh and Tehran, he claimed, was nothing more than “a façade.”

Cohen added that Iran is Saudi Arabia’s number one enemy. “Saudi Arabia would do anything to stop [Iran] from getting a nuclear weapon. The agreement was the Saudis’ way of sending a message to the Americans to get more involved.”

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The Jerusalem Post reported him as saying that senior Biden administration figures and US Senators had spoken to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman about peace with Israel recently. All that Riyadh wanted is a more positive approach from Washington, and it is getting it.

In March, CNN reported that Saudi Arabia was looking to the US for security guarantees and help with its civilian nuclear programme as a condition for normalising relations with Israel. However, the media outlet noted that ramping up security guarantees for Saudi Arabia would likely face stiff resistance from some members of Congress, who have called on the Biden administration to downgrade Washington’s relationship with Riyadh.

Nevertheless, added CNN, both Biden and Netanyahu have placed importance on normalising ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel.

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