In recent developments, Saudi Arabia has expressed its continued interest in normalizing relations with Israel, despite the ongoing war in Gaza. This announcement comes as a blow to Hamas, as one of their main goals for the war was to turn Israel's neighbors against it.
Hamas militants had launched an attack on Israel in October with the intention of derailing diplomatic talks between Israel and Saudi Arabia. For a few months, it seemed like their plan was successful. However, Saudi Arabia has now made it clear that it still wants to establish ties with Israel, potentially undermining one of Hamas' key objectives.
Prince Khalid bin Bandar, the Saudi ambassador to the UK, affirmed his country's desire to reach an agreement with Israel. While Saudi Arabia does not currently recognize Israel as a sovereign state, they still believe in normalization and any deal would have to include Palestinian independence, according to Prince Khalid. He emphasized that the pursuit of normalization does not come at the expense of the Palestinian people.
The US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, also acknowledged the interest in pursuing a deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia during his meeting with Saudi Arabia's ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. However, Blinken stressed that a resolution in Gaza and a practical pathway to a Palestinian state would be prerequisites for such an agreement.
It is worth noting that the relationship between Israel and Saudi Arabia has been tense since the establishment of the Israeli state in 1948. If formal diplomatic relations were to be established, it would mark a significant shift in power dynamics in the region.
Hamas, on the other hand, opposes any progress in the relationship between Israel and Saudi Arabia. A potential deal would undermine Iran's influence in the region, and Iran is a key supporter of the militant group.
Overall, Saudi Arabia's affirmation of its interest in normalizing relations with Israel despite the war in Gaza is a setback for Hamas. It remains to be seen how these developments will impact the ongoing conflict and regional dynamics.