Blinken, Netanyahu discuss normalization efforts in Middle East

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday discussed Israel’s further integration into the Middle East, the State Department said.

“The Secretary and Prime Minister discussed areas of mutual interest, including expanding and deepening Israel’s integration into the Middle East through normalization with countries in the region,” according to a readout of the call.

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Blinken also stressed the need to uphold the commitments made at regional meetings in Aqaba and Sharm El Sheikh to avoid measures that undermine the prospects for a two-state solution with Palestine.

State Department Spokesman Matt Miller said the two officials discussed broader regional challenges, “such as the threat posed by Iran, and underscored the United States’ ironclad commitment to Israel’s security and our 75-year-old partnership.”


Earlier on Thursday, a joint news conference was held in Riyadh with Blinken and Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan.

Prince Faisal defended Saudi Arabia’s stance on normalizing ties with the Assad regime. “Regardless of what one thinks about Bashar al-Assad, we took the only pathway to resolving the humanitarian challenges that we face in the aftermath of the Syrian crisis,” he said.

During the press conference, Riyadh’s top diplomat also said Saudi Arabia is developing its civilian nuclear program and prefers to have the US as one of the bidders for that program.

Ahead of departing for his trip to Saudi Arabia, on Monday, Blinken said Washington was working towards normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia, an objective which would serve US national security interests.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has repeatedly stated that any kind of peace accord or deal to normalize ties with Israel would be preconditioned on the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

The 2020 normalization of relations between the UAE and Israel was part of the US-brokered Abraham Accords that also saw the Jewish state establish diplomatic ties with Bahrain and Morocco.

The UAE was the first Gulf country to normalize ties with Israel and only the third Arab nation to do so after Egypt and Jordan.

The Abraham Accords broke with long-standing pan-Arab policy to isolate Israel until it withdraws from the occupied territories and accepts Palestinian statehood.

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