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US ‘very close’ to bilateral deal with Saudi Arabia as part of Israel normalization

The US said on Thursday that it was “very close” to reaching an agreement on the bilateral piece of a potential package deal with Saudi Arabia, which would need to include normalization with Israel. reports Al Arabiya English.

“The Secretary did meet with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia this week when he was in Riyadh… and we are very close to reaching an agreement on the bilateral pieces of a normalization agreement,” State Department Spokesman Matt Miller said after the top US diplomat’s weekend trip to Saudi Arabia.

However, as Miller alluded to, Saudi Arabia has been adamant that any potential agreement would need to include an irreversible, irrevocable pathway to a Palestinian state.

As part of this larger deal, there are bilateral agreements between the US and Saudi Arabia, which are being worked on to include a defense pact, cooperation in artificial intelligence fields as well as Riyadh’s civilian nuclear program.

“There are a few details that we have to continue to work through, but we think we can reach agreement on those details in very short order,” Miller told reporters during a briefing. He added that there was still more work to be done on a separate piece: the proposal for a pathway to a Palestinian state and security guarantees for Israel.

Israel, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has repeatedly objected to the formation of a Palestinian state.
Miller said the broader deal would only go through with all the agreements in line.

He also referred to Saudi Arabia’s stance on Palestinian statehood and that there would be no agreement while the Gaza war is still raging.

“Saudi Arabia has made it very clear that as part of any normalization deal with Israel, they have two requirements: 1) Calm in Gaza and 2) a path to an independent Palestinian state,” Miller said.

The State Department spokesman stated that a normalization deal would be the right thing to do for Palestinians as well as for Israel’s long-term goal of normal relations with its neighbors. “It would isolate Iran, and, significantly, it would address some very real challenges Israel is going to face in Gaza when you look at the end of this conflict with figuring out how to rebuild Gaza, with figuring out how to provide security to Gaza,” he said.

“So ultimately, the government of Israel will have to make the choice about what’s in the best interest of their people.

“But for the United States, we’re going to work to finish up the proposals that we are working on with our Arab partners, and we’re going to put that point of view forward, and Israel can decide.”