In a historic turn of events, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has openly discussed progress toward a tripartite agreement between the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Israel in a recent interview with "Fox News." This development comes amidst growing anticipation of a landmark deal that could reshape the Middle East's geopolitical landscape.
In the interview, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman emphasized the importance of resolving the Palestinian issue as a key component of achieving normalization between Saudi Arabia and Israel. He openly acknowledged ongoing negotiations with Israel, dispelling rumors of suspended talks. Bin Salman stated, "Good negotiations are underway with Israel, which have continued until now." He expressed the hope that such an agreement would improve the lives of Palestinians and solidify Israel's role as a regional actor.
Furthermore, the Crown Prince addressed the nuclear issue, highlighting Saudi Arabia's stance on Iran. He remarked, "If Iran has nuclear weapons, we must have them too." This statement underscores the strategic dimension of the prospective agreement.
The Crown Prince's comments come in the wake of a high-stakes meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, held at the Intercontinental Hotel in New York. This meeting, delayed by about 40 minutes, marked their first face-to-face encounter since the formation of Israel's government, signaling an unusual lapse in the traditionally close relations between the two nations.
During their meeting, both leaders avoided explicit reference to the tensions that have arisen in recent times. President Biden mentioned his long-standing acquaintance with Netanyahu but emphasized democratic values and the importance of checks and balances. Netanyahu affirmed Israel's commitment to democracy, underscoring a new dimension in Israeli-U.S. relations.
Of note, both leaders openly discussed the normalization of relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia as a primary goal of their meeting. This marked a departure from the usual diplomatic language, with Saudi Arabia explicitly mentioned instead of a broader "regional coalition" framework. President Biden even humorously remarked that if such statements had been made a decade ago, it would have raised eyebrows.
Furthermore, Prime Minister Netanyahu made an unexpected statement about the Palestinians during the joint press conference with President Biden. He expressed optimism about establishing a strategic alliance that could bring an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict and foster reconciliation between the Islamic world and Israel. Such a statement is considered extraordinary in a government composed of right-wing parties.
These developments signal a significant shift in the diplomatic landscape of the Middle East. As discussions about a tripartite agreement between the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and Israel continue to gain momentum, the world watches with anticipation and uncertainty, hoping for a potential breakthrough in a region long plagued by conflict and tensions.