Saudi Arabia has decided to pause its US-supported plans to normalize relations with Israel, marking a significant shift in foreign policy priorities amidst the escalating conflict between Israel and Hamas. The move to engage with Iran is part of Riyadh’s efforts to prevent a broader regional escalation of violence.
US-brokered talks on normalizing relations with Israel will be delayed, as this was considered a critical step for Saudi Arabia to secure a US defense pact. Prior to the conflict, both Saudi and Israeli leaders were moving toward a deal that could have reshaped the Middle East.
Saudi Arabia has indicated that it will not allow its pursuit of a US defense pact to proceed unless Israel offers significant concessions to the Palestinians in their quest for statehood. However, sidelining the Palestinian cause could potentially anger other Arab nations.
The Saudi government has not officially commented on this development, but it suggests a pause in the normalization process, with a focus on Israeli concessions to the Palestinians when discussions resume.
The shift in Saudi Arabia’s stance highlights the challenges facing US efforts to integrate Israel more deeply into a region where the Palestinian issue remains a major concern.
Despite these developments, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan stated that the normalization effort is “not on hold” but emphasized a focus on immediate challenges.
Saudi Arabia’s efforts to engage with all relevant parties and contain the regional crisis are highlighted by a recent phone call between Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.
The Iranian officials described the call as positive and aimed at supporting Palestine and preventing further regional conflict.
This pause in normalization plans underscores the complex dynamics at play in the region, where historical conflicts and regional concerns intersect with evolving diplomatic efforts.