Israel, Saudi Arabia see progress on ties as Iran sounds warning

Saudi Arabia and Israel voiced optimism Wednesday that they were moving closer to a historic normalization of ties as Iran accused the kingdom of betraying the Palestinians through the U.S.-led effort.

During their meeting in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told U.S. President Joe Biden that he believed a historic peace can be forged between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

In an interview with Fox News, Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said talks were moving forward with Israel, denying a media report that the process was suspended.

"Every day we get closer," the prince said.

But he noted the kingdom was seeking more progress on ensuring the rights of the Palestinians, as Netanyahu's hard-right government continues to pursue controversial settlements in the occupied West Bank.

"For us, the Palestinian issue is very important. We need to solve that part," he said. "We need to ease the lives of the Palestinians."

Saudi Arabia has also been seeking security guarantees, including reportedly a treaty, with the United States in return for normalizing ties with Israel.

Iran denies seeking a nuclear weapon and has repaired relations with Saudi Arabia in recent months through talks led by China and through the easing of a proxy conflict in Yemen.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, addressing reporters Wednesday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, said that any deal that aims "to bring security for the Zionist regime" – Israel – "will certainly not do so."

"We believe that a relationship between regional countries and the Zionist regime would be a stab in the back of the Palestinian people and of the resistance of the Palestinians," Raisi said.

Israel normalized relations decades ago with neighboring Egypt and Jordan and in 2020 added three more Arab states – the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco.

(With input from AFP)

(Cover via CFP)

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