Netanyahu's far-right allies 'agree to not hinder' normalisation efforts with Saudi Arabia: report
Far-right members of Israel's incoming government have reportedly agreed to not obstruct any efforts made by Benjamin Netanyahu to establish formal ties with Saudi Arabia, according to Israeli media reports.
Far-right lawmakers Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich have reached an understanding with Netanyahu in order to not sabotage the latter’s efforts to establish diplomatic relations with Riyadh, The Times of Israel reported, citing Channel 12.
Following his victory in November's elections, Prime Minister-designate Netanyahu has reportedly been pursuing a normalisation deal with Saudi Arabia.
Netanyahu is seeking to establish formal ties with the Gulf kingdom via US contacts, Israeli outlet Yedioth Ahronoth reported.
Ben-Gvir who has garnered controversy for espousing anti-Palestinian sentiments, is poised to become Israel’s defence minister, while settler activist Smotrich is also expected to land a leading position in Netanyahu's cabinet.
Netanyahu has reportedly handed over considerable amounts of power to Smotrich to approve the construction of further illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. Smotrich has also long advocated for the annexation of large parts of the occupied territory.
Such a move contradicts Saudi’s conditions for normalised relations with Israel, with Riyadh saying on numerous occasions that it would adhere to the decades-old Arab League position of not establishing diplomatic relations with Israel until it ends its occupation of the West Bank and lifts its siege on the Gaza Strip.
Relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia appear to have warmed since fellow Arab states Bahrain, Morocco, Sudan and the UAE signed the US-brokered Abraham Accords two years ago.
However, Riyadh and Tel Aviv have yet to formalise their ties, despite waves of speculation over a potential deal.
Arab states' decisions to normalise ties with Israel have been slammed by Palestinians and many others in the Arab world, who consider the move a betrayal of the Palestinian cause.