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Saudi delegation heading to Ramallah ahead of possible normalisation with Israel

September 25, 2023 at 11:33 am

The Saudi Arabia national flag [Chris McGrath/Getty Images]

A Saudi delegation is due to visit Ramallah this week, amid diplomatic efforts to reach a normalisation agreement between the occupying state of Israel and the kingdom that may include concessions to the Palestinians.

A Palestinian official revealed that the delegation will be headed by the non-resident Saudi envoy to Palestine, Nayef Al-Sudairi, who is a cousin of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, according to Reuters.

The visit comes after Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last week that efforts are underway to reach an agreement to normalise relations between the two countries.

However, American officials noted that normalisation is still a long way off because it is expected to include a defence agreement with Washington and a civilian nuclear programme for Saudi Arabia.

Read: Israel presents obstacle to normalisation, refuses Saudi demand for nuclear enrichment 

Among the issues that must also be settled is the Palestinian issue, with calls to revive a peace process leading to a two-state solution.

US-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians collapsed in 2014, and relations between the two sides deteriorated after the occupation state failed to fulfil its obligations under the agreement.

Last week, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said that a peace agreement could not be reached in the Middle East before granting the Palestinians their full rights, while the Saudi foreign minister also called for reviving the two-state solution.

For his part, Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said that the set of demands presented by the Palestinian Authority to Saudi Arabia will not be an obstacle to reaching a normalisation agreement.

In an interview with Kan, Cohen denied that the PA had demanded that part of Area C in the occupied West Bank, which is under both Israel’s administrative and military control, be transferred to its control.

Cohen stressed that the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed Bin Salman, would not have talked about progress towards the normalisation process had this matter not been within reach, adding that Bin Salman’s statement in an interview with Fox News about progress towards a normalisation agreement is gaining historical importance.

He said that Israel can agree to the conditions set by Saudi Arabia for normalisation, stressing that the normalisation agreement will contribute to strengthening Israeli security and will not harm Israel’s military superiority.

Cohen expected that six or seven Arab and Islamic countries will join the normalisation process after Riyadh and Tel Aviv sign a deal.

Benjamin Netanyahu said in his speech before the 78th session of the UN General Assembly, “There’s no question the Abraham Accords heralded the dawn of a new age of peace. But I believe that we are at the cusp of an even more dramatic breakthrough, an historic peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia. Peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia will truly create a new Middle East.”