Saturday, July 13, 2024

Report: Erdogan says Turkey backs Israel-Saudi normalisation

Ankara supports the recent attempts aimed at normalization of ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said during a closed-door briefing with analysts and journalists in New York, sources told Middle East Eye.

“Turkey views the normalisation attempts between the two countries positively,” the Turkish president said, responding to a question, according to two sources who were present at the meeting.

For months, Washington has been leading efforts to strike a deal between Saudi Arabia and Israel that would establish formal ties.

Saudi Arabia has held out the offer to normalise ties with Israel since 2002 under the Arab Peace Plan, which calls for an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

A Turkish source familiar with Ankara’s thinking told MEE that Turkey is in favour of decreasing tensions in the region.

“Turkey’s current support to normalisation is just a continuation and reflection of this general policy,” the source stated, adding, “The normalisation could become a political leverage to push Israel to act smarter in the region.”

In exchange for normalising ties, Saudi Arabia wants security guarantees from the United States, help in developing a civilian nuclear programme, and fewer restrictions on US arms sales.

While the Palestinian issue is not thought to be central to the agreement, a component of the deal would include possible benefits to the Palestinians.

The Turkish source said the deal may become a positive influence over the Israeli leadership to pressure them on the Palestinian question.

“This could put Turkey at ease in its relationship with Israel, since it is likely to create less tensions with the Palestinians,” the source continued, adding, “Because Ankara feels compelled to respond to Israel whenever it acts against the Palestinians.”

A Saudi media report over the weekend claimed that Riyadh was “pausing talks” with Israel because of distaste over the far-right government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The US State Department offered a quick and firm denial of the report on Sunday, saying on X, formerly Twitter: “Talks are ongoing, and we look forward to further conversations with both parties.”

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