There is great frustration both in Israel and among senior Saudi officials over the US administration's insistence on giving great weight to the Palestinian issue as part of its efforts to reach a tripartite agreement between Riyadh, Washington and Jerusalem. Sources briefed on the details of the talks told Israel Hayom that President Joe Biden's preoccupation with the issue is making progress in the normalization process itself difficult and delaying the breakthrough.
Netanyahu presents the map of peace in the Middle East in his speech at the United Nations, September 2023 // Photo: Reuters
One of the sources noted that on the main issues on the agenda, including the defense agreement between the United States and Saudi Arabia, as well as the components of the nuclear program that the kingdom will receive, the gaps are not large and can be closed. On the other hand, he said, the Americans' emphasis on the Palestinian aspect is so exaggerated that it is he who could be what will bring down the entire process.
Criticism of the American administration has been voiced in recent days by sources in Israel as well as by senior Saudi officials who made the statements in closed conversations. They noted that there is an American demand to include significant gestures with a political aspect towards the Palestinians as part of the process, but this pressure does not come from Riyadh. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman refrained in an interview with Fox News two weeks ago from making political demands on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, saying that his expectation was only to "make life easier for Palestinians."
There is no pressure from Saudi Arabia on the Palestinian issue. Prime Minister Netanyahu and Saudi Crown Prince bin Salman, photo by Oren bin Hakun, Reuters
Despite this flexible position, government representatives mediating between Israel and Saudi Arabia have raised a series of demands of a political nature regarding the Palestinians. As reported by Israel Hayom last week, Israel was presented with a request to authorize the Americans to reopen the "Palestinian consulate" in Jerusalem, which would mean a Palestinian foothold in Israel's capital. In addition, the administration is pressuring Israel to increase economic support for the Palestinian Authority.
As reported Sunday morning by Israel Hayom, since the beginning of 2023, Israel has increased its financial contributions to the Palestinians by NIS 350 million, and this seems to be related to American pressure to strengthen Abbas' government.
As noted, both Israel and Saudi Arabia are frustrated by the Americans' preoccupation with the volatile Palestinian issue. Due to the sensitivity of the contacts, the statements were made in rooms.
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