Blinken: Saudis still open to normalization but only once Gaza calm, pathway to 2-states open

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks at a press conference in Tel Aviv, February 7, 2024. (Screenshot)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks at a press conference in Tel Aviv, February 7, 2024. (Screenshot)

Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman repeated his “desire and determination to pursue normalization” with Israel during a meeting earlier this week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says.

According to Blinken, the crown prince said that in order for this to happen, however, there must be calm in Gaza and “a clear and credible pathway to a Palestinian state.”

He also says that there are countries in the region that are “prepared to do things with and for Israel that they were never prepared to do in the past, including steps that would further address any security concerns it might have.”

He notes that he had been scheduled to visit Israel and Saudi Arabia on October 10 to pursue normalization efforts, before the events of October 7 intervened.

The normalization process would also isolate Hamas and Iran, says Blinken. But it will require hard decisions. “The alternative right now looks like an endless cycle of violence and destruction and despair.”

Finally, he is asked whether the US sees any role for Hamas in governing post-war Gaza. “The short answer,” says Blinken, “is no.”

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