update deskIsrael at War

Normalization ‘remains on the table,’ Saudi minister says

Minister of Investment Khalid Al-Falih also announced that Riyadh will host three summits on the Hamas war.

Saudi Minister of Investment Khalid Al-Falih at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, 2012. Credit: World Economic Forum via Wikimedia Commons.
Saudi Minister of Investment Khalid Al-Falih at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, 2012. Credit: World Economic Forum via Wikimedia Commons.

Saudi-Israel normalization “remains on the table” despite the war with Hamas in Gaza, Riyadh’s investment minister said on Wednesday.

Khalid Al-Falih, speaking at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Singapore, reiterated Riyadh’s stance that a diplomatic rapprochement with Jerusalem is “contingent on a pathway to a peaceful resolution of the Palestinian question.

“That was on the table—it remains on the table and obviously the setback over the last month has clarified why Saudi Arabia was so adamant that resolution of the Palestinian conflict has to be part of a broader normalization in the Middle East,” the minister said during a panel discussion.

Al-Falih announced on Tuesday that the Saudis would host three summits of Arab and Islamic nations focused on the Israel-Hamas war.

“We will see, this week, in the next few days Saudi Arabia convening an emergency Arab summit in Riyadh. You will see Saudi Arabia convening an Africa-Saudi summit in Riyadh, and in a few days you will see Saudi Arabia convening an Islamic summit,” he said.

“In the short term, the objective of bringing these three summits and other gatherings under the leadership of Saudi Arabia would be to drive toward peaceful resolution of the conflict.”

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman also indicated during a phone call with U.S. President Joe Biden on Oct. 24 that Israeli normalization talks can resume after the war.

Biden and bin Salman “affirmed the importance of working toward a sustainable peace between Israelis and Palestinians as soon as the crisis subsides, building on the work that was already underway between Saudi Arabia and the United States over recent months,” according to a readout from the White House.

Republican members of Congress told JNS last month that the Hamas attacks of Oct. 7 were part of Tehran’s effort to stymie Saudi-Israeli peace.

“It should come as no surprise that Iran’s major goal with their continued support for Hamas was the collapse of the Israeli-Saudi normalization efforts,” Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado told JNS.

Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana told JNS that Hamas’s attacks were meant to thwart the continuation of the 2022 Abraham Accords, which were brokered by then-U.S. President Donald Trump and helped “the Middle East down a path toward peace.”

Normalization between Riyadh and Jerusalem would “strengthen Israel’s security, bring long-term stability to the region, and allow Israel and Saudi Arabia to work together to contain Iran and its terrorist proxies,” Banks told JNS.

“Iran and Hamas knew their vicious attack would help prevent that from happening. President Biden must give up on his failed strategy of appeasement and start holding the Iranian regime accountable for its crimes,” he added.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi will travel to Saudi Arabia on Sunday for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation summit. It will be the first visit by an Iranian head of state to the kingdom since Riyadh and Tehran reestablished diplomatic ties in March in a deal brokered by China.

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