Israel has 'no objection' to Red Sea island transfer to Saudi Arabia in bid towards normalisation
Israel has "no objection" to two strategic Red Sea islands being transferred to Saudi Arabia as a step towards any normalisation of ties between both countries, high-ranking officials said on Thursday.
After meeting Israeli officials on Wednesday and Thursday, Biden is on Friday to travel on to Saudi Arabia on Air Force One's first publicly acknowledged direct flight between both countries.
In recent weeks, Israeli officials have hinted that Biden could announce initiatives related to Israel during his visit to the Gulf kingdom.
For that to happen, the fate of the two Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir, which can be used to control access to the Israeli port of Eilat, could be on the table.
The islands are currently in Egypt's possession, but Cairo agreed years ago to hand them over to Riyadh in exchange for financial support.
Under the terms of Israel's 1979 peace agreement with Egypt, however, the Jewish state must sign off on the intended handover.
In the night of Thursday to Friday, high-ranking officials who wished to remain anonymous said Israel had "no objection" to Egypt handing over the islands to Saudi Arabia, confirming earlier Israeli media reports.
A senior Israeli official on Tuesday said Israel hoped for a "start of the process of normalisation" with Saudi Arabia.
Israel expanded its regional reach with US backing in 2020, when it formalised ties with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco.
In January 2021, Sudan's transitional government also agreed to do so, but Khartoum has yet to finalise the deal.
Palestinians and their allies have criticised the agreements given the continued systematic abuses experience by Palestinians across occupied territories.