Monday, September 04, 2023

It's happening again:

A delegation of top American officials is slated to travel to Riyadh this week to meet with Saudi counterparts in order to discuss a potential normalization agreement between the Gulf kingdom and Israel, a US official and a Palestinian official told The Times of Israel on Sunday.

The visit by White House Middle East czar Brett McGurk and Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf will come just over a month after US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan visited Saudi Arabia with the same objective, pointing to Washington’s continued determination to broker an elusive deal. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also visited Riyadh on the same mission in June.

McGurk and Leaf’s visit will overlap with that of a Palestinian delegation led by Palestine Liberation Organization executive committee secretary-general Hussein al-Sheikh, who will be in Riyadh to discuss what Ramallah is hoping to obtain from a Saudi-Israeli normalization deal, the two officials said.
So the US is speaking to Saudi Arabia about conditions on Israel to accept a normalization deal.

The US is speaking to Palestinians about conditions on Israel to accept a normalization deal.

The Palestinians are speaking to the Saudis about conditions on Israel to accept a normalization deal.

Everyone is speaking to each other - about Israel, but not to Israel. 

Are there backchannels from Israel to Saudi Arabia? Probably. Is the Israeli government in charge of these backchannels? 

We have no idea. 

But we do know that the Biden administration and the Palestinians are not keen to negotiate with Netanyahu, so my guess is that some Israeli peacenik organization is leading the backchannel negotiations with the intent to manipulate the Israeli government, not to appease it, about what strings would be attached to the deal.

Maybe I'm being a bit too sensitive after reading the Gidi Grinstein book I reviewed on Sunday and how a backchannel was used by the Israeli Left, the US and Palestinians to collude to bring down Netanyahu in his first term, but the impression I am getting is that a purpose of these negotiations may include finding a way to make the current coalition government fall, something that would being a sigh of relief to the Americans, the Palestinians and not a small number of Israelis. 

Holding these meetings in Saudi Arabia is a convenient way to exclude Israeli officials who cannot officially travel to the kingdom. But all other negotiations between Israel and its erstwhile peace partners took place in neutral territory - Europe or the US. 

Excluding Israel from these talks seems to be a way to marginalize the Jewish state and put it on its back foot when the offer is revealed - a deal that, it appears, will be all but imposed on Israel rather than one that Israel has a say in. If Israel refuses an offer backed by the US, Saudis and tacitly Palestinians it will look like an intransigent player who only pretends to want peace. If Israel accepts a bad deal, the government probably will fall. 

It feels like deja vu.,

Most Israelis and Zionists would love to see Saudi normalization, myself included. Every new revelation makes me wonder if the price would be too high - especially when the major benefits of peace are already effectively there

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 19 years and 40,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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