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October 27, 2020

Normal ties with Saudi close: Mossad chief

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October 27, 2020

JERUSALEM: A normalisation announcement between Israel and Saudi Arabia is close and there could be major developments following the US presidential elections depending on who wins, Mossad director Yossi Cohen has said in closed conversations, Israeli newspaper The Jerusalem Post has claimed.

In the pre-dawn hours of Sunday morning, N12 news channel reported that Cohen had said privately to those around him that the Saudis were waiting until after the US election, but that they could potentially announce normalisation as a “gift” to the winner.

The implication from the N12 TV report was that such an announcement could even come almost immediately after the election. However, the JP has learned that the N12 report either misunderstood or did not fully flesh out what Cohen had said. What Cohen actually said to those around him was that if US President Donald Trump wins reelection, there could be an almost immediate announcement.

Yet, if as the polls suggest, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden wins the election, though the Saudis would still want a normalisation deal with Israel, there would not necessarily be a clear timeline.

Cohen had emphasised that the Saudis did not want to give a gift to Trump and then get nothing for it upon a Biden administration taking over the reins. It must be mentioned here that King Salman, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, told US President Donald Trump in a phone call last month, that the kingdom remains committed to achieving “a fair and permanent solution to the Palestinian issue”, the Saudi Press Agency had reported on Sept 7.

This was the main starting point of the Kingdom’s proposed Arab Peace Initiative, King Salman said in the call. On Sept 15, Saudi Arabia cabinet statement said the kingdom stands by the Palestinian people and supports all efforts aimed at reaching a just and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian issue.

King Salman told the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation last year that the Palestinian cause remained a core issue and that the kingdom “refuses any measures that touch the historical and legal position of East Jerusalem”. Palestinianswant East Jerusalem to be the capital of any future state.

“The cabinet notes that the Kingdom stands by the Palestinian people and supports all efforts aimed at reaching a just and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian issue that enables the Palestinian people to establish their independent Palestinian state on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital, in accordance with international legitimacy decisions and the Arab Peace Initiative,” the statement said.