On Tuesday, the State Department said Secretary of State Antony Blinken held separate phone calls with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas amid a US push to broker a normalization deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia.
According to the State Department, Blinken and Netanyahu discussed several issues, including Iran and “expanding Israel’s regional integration.”
Discussing Blinken’s phone calls at a White House briefing, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said they were not “routine” but added they did not “portend any imminent breakthrough or action with respect to the question of normalization.”
Also on Tuesday, PA officials arrived in Riyadh to discuss the Saudi-Israel normalization talks that are being brokered by the US. Abbas did not make the trip, but the delegation includes officials closest to him. PA sources told Haaretz that the delegation is looking to be updated on the status of the normalization negotiations.
Saudi Arabia’s long-stated position was that it would not normalize with Israel until Palestinians were granted a state, but Riyadh has softened its stance on the issue. The PA is looking to the Saudis to get concessions out of Israel for a normalization deal, but the demands do not include statehood.
One of the PA’s demands is for a change to the status of Area C, which makes up over 60% of the West Bank and is entirely under Israeli military control. The PA wants partial control of the zone, but that is unlikely considering the Netanyahu government includes extremist settlers who want to annex the territory.
For their part, the Saudis are making major demands of the US as conditions to normalize with Israel, including a NATO-style security guarantee and support for a civilian nuclear program.