Blinken: Palestine-Israel Coexistence Possible with Security Guarantees

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says coexistence of Palestine and Israel is possible with security guarantees for Israel. The Biden administration and Saudi Arabia are finalizing a deal on US security guarantees and civilian nuclear assistance.

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Momen Zellmi
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Blinken: Palestine-Israel Coexistence Possible with Security Guarantees

Blinken: Palestine-Israel Coexistence Possible with Security Guarantees

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has stated that the coexistence of Palestine and Israel is possible withsecurity guaranteesfor the Jewish state. This comes as the Biden administration and Saudi Arabia are finalizing an agreement for US security guarantees and civilian nuclear assistance, despite an Israel-Saudi normalization deal remaining elusive.

Why this matters: A potential agreement between Saudi Arabia and Israel could have far-reaching implications for the Middle East, potentially altering the regional balance of power and influencing the trajectory of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Moreover, such a deal could also have significant repercussions for global politics, particularly in terms of the United States' relationships with key players in the region.

A working draft outlines principles and proposals to put back on track a US-led effort to reshape the volatile region, which was derailed by the Hamas attack on Israel and the outbreak of war in Gaza. The Biden administration and Saudi Arabia are close to reaching an agreement on a bilateral security accord, which would then be part of a wider package presented to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The US-Saudi security accord is expected to call for formal US guarantees to defend the kingdom, as well as Saudi access to more advanced US weaponry, in return for halting Chinese arms purchases and restricting Beijing's investment in the country. The accord is also expected to involve sharing emerging technologies with Riyadh, including artificial intelligence. The terms are expected to be finalized within weeks.

To join a broader deal, Netanyahu will face conditions, including winding down the war in Gaza and agreeing on a pathway to Palestinian statehood, both of which he has steadfastly resisted. US officials hope Netanyahu will not want to pass up the historic opportunity to open relations with Saudi Arabia, but are mindful of the domestic political pressures he is under.

A broader pact giving Saudi Arabia US military protection, together with normalization with Israel, would unite two long-time foes and bind Riyadh to Washington at a time when China is making inroads in the region. A normalization deal would also bolster Israel's defenses against arch-foe Iran and give US President Joe Biden a diplomatic victory ahead of the November 5 presidential election.

US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said, "We're very close to reaching an agreement on the US-Saudi portion of the package." However, he noted that "Saudi Arabia has made clear there will be no normalization deal while the conflict in Gaza is still raging." Miller emphasized that "The components of the broader package - the US-Saudi deal, potential normalization with Israel, and a pathway to Palestinian statehood - would all be linked together. None go forward without the other."

The proposed deal represents a significant shift in the region's geopolitical landscape. Saudi Arabia has refused to recognize Israel since its founding in 1948, but the kingdom's priorities have changed in light of the Israeli-Palestinian stalemate and Iran's growing influence. There is already extensive security and intelligence cooperation between Israel and Saudi Arabia aimed at containing Iran.

The Biden administration's push for a deal builds on the Abraham Accords brokered by the Trump administration, which saw several Arab countries normalize relations with Israel. However, securing an agreement with Saudi Arabia, given its global and regional leadership role in the Islamic world, would require significant concessions from the US.

The ongoing negotiations come at a critical juncture, with the war in Gaza complicating the politics of the deal. Despite the challenges, diplomats report progress in recent weeks, with Saudi and US officials finalizing the details. If successful, the agreement could fundamentally reshape the Middle East and deliver a major foreign policy achievement for the Biden administration.

Key Takeaways

  • US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says Palestine and Israel can coexist with security guarantees for Israel.
  • The US and Saudi Arabia are finalizing a security accord, including US defense guarantees and civilian nuclear assistance.
  • The deal is conditional on Israel winding down the war in Gaza and agreeing to a pathway to Palestinian statehood.
  • A broader pact would unite Saudi Arabia and Israel, binding Riyadh to Washington and bolstering Israel's defenses against Iran.
  • The agreement could fundamentally reshape the Middle East and deliver a major foreign policy achievement for the Biden administration.