update deskMiddle East

Pompeo optimistic about potential of Israeli-Saudi normalization

The former CIA director and U.S. secretary of state said insistence on a Palestinian state could derail a deal.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Source: Screenshot.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Source: Screenshot.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Mike Pompeo believes that normalization between Jerusalem and Riyadh would be “more easily attainable with a Republican president.”

Still, Pompeo, who has led both the CIA and the U.S. State Department, feels optimistic that the party of the president would not prevent a deal. He explained that the United States, Saudi Arabia and Israel all shared common security interests.

Why then would a Republican administration ease a peace deal?

Pompeo pointed to the party’s view of the Islamic Republic as the primary threat in the Middle East. But something stands in the way: the potential of a demand for Palestinian statehood as a prerequisite to normalization.

“It is impossible to imagine a two-state solution with the current Palestinian leadership who is underwriting terrorism, taking money from Iran, paying citizens to kill Israelis,” he said.

Israel’s Minister of Tourism Haim Katz arrived in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, meeting with his counterpart, Saudi Tourism Minister Ahmed Al-Khateeb. The two officials discussed partnerships Al-Khateeb said could act as a “bridge between people and between cultures.”
Meanwhile, the previous day, a Saudi delegation arrived in Ramallah to meet with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas.

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