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Blinken: ‘Virtually every Arab country’ now wants peace with Israel, but…

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By Vered Weiss, World Israel News

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he saw an “extraordinary opportunity” in the next few months for Arab nations to achieve normalization with Israel, but emphasized a Palestinian state was a part of this process, if not a condition.

“Virtually every Arab country now genuinely wants to integrate Israel into the region to normalize relations…to provide security commitments and assurances so that Israel can feel more safe,” Blinken said during the Munich Security Conference.

“And there’s also, I think the imperative, that’s more urgent than ever, to proceed to a Palestinian state that also ensures the security of Israel,” he added.

The Biden Administration has been in talks with Saudi Arabia to normalize relations with Israel along with the establishment of a Palestinian State.

In the past, President Biden has said that a “revitalized” Palestinian Authority could rule Gaza after the war, a possibility that Israeli Prime Minister has refused, citing the PA’s ties with terrorist groups.

As part of the normalization agreement with Saudi Arabia and the establishment of a Palestinian state, the White House says it’s confident they can secure the release of the remaining hostages in Gaza.

While at the Munich Security Conference, Blinken spoke with Israeli President Isaac Herzog about a hostage deal, which has been stalled recently, and achieving a pause in fighting to allow more humanitarian aid to reach Gaza.

Prior to the beginning of the war between Israel and Hamas on October 7th, Israel was headed toward a normalization agreement with Saudi Arabia, and although the issue of Palestinian statehood was mentioned then it has increasingly been seen as an absolute condition before normalization can be achieved.

In late January, Riyadh’s foreign minister said Saudi Arabia will not entertain normalization talks with Israel that are not predicated on a path to Palestinian statehood, the oil-rich kingdom’s most explicit statement yet linking a deal with Israel to the two-state solution.

Speaking with CNN, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud ruled out normalization talks with Israel, unless they are accompanied by what host Fareed Zakaria called a “credible and irreversible path to a Palestinian state.”

“That’s the only way we’re going to get a benefit,” said Prince Faisal.

However, Israeli ministers including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have rejected a Palestinian State and said it would be a “reward” for murdering and capturing Israelis on October 7th.

“Everybody who talks about a two-state solution — well, I ask, what do you mean by that?” Netanyahu said on ABC News’s “This Week.” “Should the Palestinians have an army? … Should they continue to educate their children for terrorism and annihilation? Of course, I say, of course not.”

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