Normalization Talks Between Israel and Saudi Arabia Reportedly Underway, Bahrain Mediating

By Matis Glenn

In this photo provided by Saudi Press Agency, SPA, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman chairs the Arab summit in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Friday, May 19, 2023. (Saudi Press Agency via AP)

Talks of normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia have been underway since early Monday morning, with Bahrain as a mediator, according to Channel 12 news.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Eli Cohen are reportedly speaking over the phone with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Salman travelled to Bahrain, and is speaking with the Israeli officials with the intermediation of Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif al-Zayani.

Bahrain normalized relations with Israel officially in 2020, yet had publicly recognized Israel’s right to exist in 2018. In 2021, Bahrain sent its first ambassador to Israel, and in the same year, Israel opened an embassy in the country.

A source involved in the negotiations says that while the U.S. pushed for talks between Israel and the oil-rich Arab state to create diplomatic ties; the Saudis arranged for Bahrain to be the mediators. The source said that “the negotiations are very complex.”

Channel 12 cites sources in Saudi Arabia who say that the Saudis’ chief demands relate to relinquishing IDF control over Yehudah and Shomron, as well as granting security supervision over the Al-Aqsa Mosque and a large Christian Church in East Yerushalayim to the Palestinian Authority, while Israel would retain authority over the Western Wall.

U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said two weeks ago that the U.S. was “working toward a normalization agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia.”

Netanyahu has not commented yet on the issue.

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