Financial Times: Saudi Arabia has become the biggest target in US normalization efforts with Israel

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Ibrahim Darwish

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London – “Al-Quds Al-Arabi”:
The Financial Times published a report saying that Saudi Arabia has become the biggest target in US efforts to pave the way for relations with Israel.
In the report prepared by Katrina Manson and Ahmed Al-Omran, they said that the United States quickly diverted its attention after the United Arab Emirates and Israel announced the normalization of relations towards an elusive and important goal: Saudi Arabia. Jared Kushner, the son-in-law and advisor to President Donald Trump who helped broker the latest deal, focused his eyes on Saudi Arabia and convincing it to take the important step. However, the task remains difficult, despite the close ties between him and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The newspaper quoted a former CIA analyst and researcher specializing in Gulf affairs, Bruce Riedel, as saying, “Saudi Arabia is the game,” but with King Salman, who is “considered a true believer in the Palestinian cause,” this will not happen soon.
Since President Trump entered the White House, his son-in-law has forged relationships with the new generation of Gulf rulers: Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. Kushner spent the night talking to Prince Mohammed and stood with him when he came under international criticism in the wake of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018.

Kushner said on Monday: “I have had several discussions with Mohammed bin Salman about (normalizing relations) and with King Salman,” and normalization will be “very good” for Saudi trade and defense.

“I have had several discussions now with Mohammed bin Salman about (normalizing relations) and with King Salman,” Kushner told reporters, adding that normalization would be “very good” for Saudi trade and defense. He also claimed that normalization is beneficial to the Palestinians. Analysts in the region and Western diplomats believe that Prince Mohammed, who is pushing for reforming the kingdom, viewed him as a figure willing to push the Palestinians to accept the American peace plan in the Middle East, as part of his attempts to strengthen the relationship with the Donald Trump administration and the American ruling establishment. It is believed that his father, who had the final say in major matters, stood before him. King Salman told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in a phone call in January that the kingdom remains committed to the Palestinian cause and the rights of Palestinians, the official Saudi Press Agency reported. When President Trump announced his plan to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in January, King Salman publicly rejected it.
Despite the close relationship between Mohammed bin Salman and Kushner, Saudi Arabia was clearly absent from the economic workshop that Kushner organized in Bahrain in support of the plan. The newspaper says that the leadership position of Saudi Arabia in the Islamic world reduces the chances that Saudi Arabia will follow the steps of the United Arab Emirates. The king is the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, in Mecca and Medina, and last year he told the OIC conference that the Palestinian issue remains fundamental and that the kingdom “rejects any steps that affect the historical and legal status of Jerusalem.”
The Palestinians are demanding that Israel withdraw from East Jerusalem, which it occupied in 1967, in order for it to be the capital of their state. “King Salman has a strong position in the heart of the Palestinian people and their cause, as does Mohammed bin Salman,” Kushner said on Monday. “They want a state for the Palestinians.” Saudi Arabia has not yet issued its official position on the Emirati-Israeli agreement. A source familiar with the thinking of the Saudi leadership said that Riyadh is “very different” from the UAE, despite the strong relationship between the two countries. He said that the UAE “is small and there is no religious element. And what the UAE will lose is less than what we will lose. And what they will present to Israel is less than what we will offer. ” The person said: “If you ask a 30-year-old Saudi man, he will say: Why do we not have relations with Israel? It has great technology and academia. But they would care if the entire Islamic world condemned us. ” Hashtagan appeared on Saudi Twitter after the UAE announcement and reflected polarization over the decision. Opponents of the declaration used the hashtag “Gulf citizens against normalization”, while those who supported the decision used the hashtag “To Hell you and your cause,” reflecting Saudi positions critical of the Palestinians and that they are not grateful for the Kingdom’s support for them. Like the UAE, Saudi Arabia has increased its secret cooperation with Israel, especially in the field of security and intelligence.
“The Iranian aggression helped some countries to confront the common enemy,” said Brian Hook, the special envoy to Iran.
A Trump administration official considered Bahrain and Oman to be the two possible candidates to normalize relations with Israel after the UAE. Morocco was also not ruled out. On Monday, Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi called his Omani counterpart about the need to strengthen ties between the two countries. Mike Singh, who was responsible for the Middle East at the National Security Council in the George W. Bush administration, said Bahrain, which relies on Emirati and Saudi support, is willing to negotiate about normalization, but wants to know the regional response to the Emirati initiative. While Oman hesitates to antagonize Iran. He said that other countries outside the region might consider diplomatic initiatives with Israel, such as Indonesia and Malaysia, and Israeli officials spoke of Sudan as a strong candidate. A senior Trump administration official said, “Nobody knows” whether Saudi Arabia will take a step to normalize relations with Israel and “every step increases confidence and this is the path that the region should take.”

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