Saudis want steps toward two-state solution for normalization, Blinken says

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says Saudi Arabia has conveyed to the United States that advancing a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a critical component of a potential normalization deal that Washington is brokering between Riyadh and Jerusalem.

In an interview on the Pod Save the World podcast, Blinken reiterates the Biden administration’s position that efforts to expand the Abraham Accords are not a substitute for Israeli-Palestinian peace.

“In our judgment… that needs to involve a two-state solution,” he says.

“It’s also clear from what we hear from the Saudis that if this [Israel normalization] process is to move forward, the Palestinian piece is going to be very important too,” Blinken says. “That’s clearly something that’s important to the Saudis in doing any kind of deal. It would be important to us too.”

Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan, right, escorts US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, center, as they arrive for a meeting with GCC Ministers at the GCC Secretariat in Riyadh on June 7, 2023. (Ahmed Yosri/ Pool/AFP)

Blinken is also pressed on why the Biden administration is expending so much political capital in order to boost leaders in Israel and Saudi Arabia who Washington is at odds with, over their records safeguarding democratic principles and human rights.

The secretary of state responds, “This — and most things that we do — are not about individual leaders or individual governments; they’re about the substance of the issue and whether we can… advance a world that’s a little bit more peaceful, a little bit more prosperous, a little bit more full of opportunity.”

“There’s no question in my mind that if we could help achieve normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia, it would move the world in that direction,” he adds. “We’ve had extraordinary turmoil in that part of the world going back to at least 1979… Moving away from that, having more moderating and integrating dynamics carry things forward, I think would be a profound change for the good — a change that would not be tied to any specific government but to the fundamental interests of the countries involved.”

“If you have the leading Muslim country in the world… making peace with Israel, that’s going to have benefits that travel well beyond the region,” Blinken says.

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