Saudi Arabia is putting US-backed plans to normalize ties with Israel on ice, two sources familiar with Riyadh's thinking told Reuters on Friday.
The move reportedly signals a rapid rethinking of Saudi’s foreign policy priorities amid the war between Israel and Hamas.
The two sources told Reuters there would be a delay in the US-backed talks on normalization with Israel that was a key step for the kingdom to secure what Riyadh considers the real prize of a US defense pact in exchange.
Before last Saturday, when Hamas terrorists brutally attacked Israel, both Israeli and Saudi leaders had been saying they were moving steadily towards a deal.
US National Security Council Spokesman John Kirby told reporters as recently as two weeks ago that a “basic framework” was in place for a potential deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia, but also said, “We’re continuing to work at this…until you negotiate everything, you haven’t really negotiated anything final.”
Days later, deputy State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel poured cold water on the idea that a normalization agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia is near, saying there is still work to be done.
Meanwhile, sources recently told Reuters that Saudi Arabia is determined to secure a military pact requiring the United States to defend the kingdom in return for opening ties with Israel and will not hold up a deal even if Israel does not offer major concessions to Palestinian Arabs.
While an Israeli-Saudi deal is widely expected to include Israeli concessions towards the Palestinian Authority, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently said that the Palestinian Arab issue will be part of a normalization agreement, three sources told Reuters that the Palestinian Arab core demand for statehood would take a back seat.
The first source familiar with Riyadh's thinking said talks could not be continued for now and the issue of Israeli concessions for the Palestinian Arabs would need to be a bigger priority when discussions resumed - a comment that indicates Riyadh has not abandoned the idea.
The Saudi government did not respond to emailed requests for comment.
(Israel National News' North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Israel National News articles, however, is Israeli time.)