Antony J. Blinken, the U.S. secretary of state, and a Saudi ambassador asserted on Tuesday the possibility of diplomatic recognition of Israel by Saudi Arabia if the Israeli government alleviates the suffering of residents of Gaza and puts Palestinians on a path toward statehood.
During meetings in Tel Aviv, Mr. Blinken said Israel had “real opportunities” to strengthen ties with Arab nations, as he sought to find a political endgame to the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza and calm regional violence arising from the conflict, even as Israel says it is slowing down major combat operations in Gaza.
Mr. Blinken’s comments were a reference to his assertion on Monday night, after talks at a Saudi royal camp in the desert, that Saudi Arabia and other countries remained interested in eventually building normal diplomatic relations with Israel despite the destruction in Gaza. But Arab leaders insist Israel must end the Gaza war first and work toward a Palestinian state, Mr. Blinken said — a position at odds with the Israeli government.
A senior Saudi official made similar points on Tuesday, in the strongest signal since the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks and the start of the war that Riyadh remains open to talks of normalization, as long as Israel takes concrete steps that would benefit Palestinians.
In an interview with the BBC, Prince Khalid bin Bandar bin Sultan, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Britain, said that the kingdom’s talks with the United States about normalization had revolved around an endpoint that “included nothing less than an independent state of Palestine.”
“While we still — going forward even after Oct. 7 — believe in normalization, it does not come at the cost of the Palestinian people,” Prince Khalid said.
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