Blinken: Countries willing to normalize with Israel but it’ll require ending war, creating pathway to Palestinian state

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in a tent on January 8, 2024. (Saudi Press Agency)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in a tent on January 8, 2024. (Saudi Press Agency)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says after meeting with the leaders of Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi that countries in the region are interested in pursuing normalization of relations with Israel, but that it will require a clear path toward a Palestinian state.

“There’s a clear interest in the region in pursuing that, but it will require that the conflict end in Gaza and it will also clearly require that there be a practical pathway to a Palestinian state,” Blinken says.

“But the interest is there, it’s real, and it could be transformative.”

Blinken, speaking to reporters in Saudi Arabia after meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the oasis town of Al Ula, says he discussed the region’s future and there was broad agreement on a few objectives.

Those included that the West Bank and Gaza should be united under Palestinian-led governance and that the region needs to work toward normalizing ties, not division or conflict.

“For that to happen, we need to see the establishment of an independent Palestinian state,” Blinken says.

“Everywhere I went, I found leaders who are determined to prevent the conflict that we are facing now from spreading,” Blinken says.

He also says that countries expressed willingness to help Gaza stabilize and revitalize, adding that Washington would work with them on what that would require and what countries are prepared to do.

While in Israel, Blinken says he “will press on the absolute imperative to do more to protect civilians and to do more to make sure that humanitarian assistance is getting into the hands of those who need it.”

He says he will also focus on efforts to bring back hostages.

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