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Saudi Arabia suspending peace deal talks with Israel amid war with Hamas: Report

The US was reportedly invested deeply in the Saudi Arabia-Israel peace talks that would have boosted its efforts to further isolate Iran, which backs the Hamas group. However, the recent talks between Iranian President Ebraham Raisi and the Saudi Crown Prince suggest a possible retreat.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Riyadh Updated on: October 14, 2023 15:38 IST
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Image Source : AP Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Amid a deadly war in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia has reportedly halted US-brokered peace deal talks with the Jewish country, possibly dealing a major diplomatic blow after Hamas launched a brutal attack last week.

According to some reports, sources said that Saudi Arabia was not ending the normalisation talks but was freezing them until the violence stopped, reported Jerusalem Post. Saudi's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman also spoke to Iranian President Ebraham Raisi on Thursday, signalling a possible retreat from US efforts to isolate Iran that backs the Hamas group.

Iranian media had reported the two leaders discussing the need for "ending war crimes against Palestine". The United States had demanded Saudi Arabia to publicly condemn the Hamas attack on Israel, but Saudi Foreign Minister Farhan Saud refused, TASS news agency reported citing a source.

This comes after Hamas launched an unprecedented and deadly attack on Israel, gunning down civilians and soldiers in the country. Over 1,300 people have been killed in Israel by the Hamas attacks, prompting the Jewish country to launch retaliatory strikes.

The United States, a staunch ally of Israel, has been deeply invested in the talks between Saudi Arabia and Israel, which would have hampered Iran's regional ambitions. The talks also entailed a US-Saudi Arabia defence pact which has been sought by Riyadh for a long time.

Last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had said that he would be open to gestures to Palestine if the normalisation deal with Saudi Arabia depended on it and "doubted" that coalition members would block such an agreement, according to The Times of Israel.

However, Netanyahu's far-right coalition partners have ruled out any compromise with Palestinians. "We will not make any concessions to the Palestinians. It’s a fiction," said Bezalel Smotrich, the leader of the far-right Religious Zionism party.

No deal without Saudi Arabia: US

Meanwhile, White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said that the US could do little in the way of a possible peace between Israel and Palestine without the committed involvement of Saudi Arabia and Israel.

"We have every intention of staying at the task of trying to pursue an Israel that is more integrated into the region, a more cooperative region, and we still believe in the promise of normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and we have no intention of not continuing to pursue that," he said.

This comes as Saudi Arabia is set to co-host an event on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly on Monday that will focus on bolstering the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, three UN diplomats conveyed to The Times of Israel. Although Israeli and Palestinian missions have not been invited to the event, Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will be at the UN.

The week-long war has already claimed over 3,500 lives on both sides and sent tensions soaring across the region. The death toll from Israeli strikes on Gaza rose to 2,215 people have been killed in the territory, including 724 children and 458 women, the Palestinian health ministry said. On the other hand, over 1,300 people have died in Israel from the Hamas attack since last week.

ALSO READ | Israeli military kills Abu Murad, head of Hamas aerial wing, 'largely responsible' for deadly attack

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