No trilateral US-Palestine-Saudi meeting on Israel normalisation this week: Palestinian official
There will be no trilateral meeting between US, Palestinian and Saudi officials on a potential deal for Riyadh to normalise ties with Israel, a Palestinian official has reportedly said, after diplomats from the three countries arrived in Riyadh for talks on the matter earlier this week.
Talks between Palestinian and Saudi officials took place on Tuesday and were due to continue on Wednesday, The New Arab's Arabic-language sister site Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported.
"We only received an invitation from Saudi Arabia to hold a [bilateral] meeting, not a Saudi-American invitation. The tripartite meeting was not on the agenda of the Palestinian leadership," Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported a Palestinian official as saying on condition of anonymity.
The official also confirmed that there was meeting between US and Palestinian officials planned - contrary to Israeli media reports earlier this week.
Both the US and Israel are pushing for Saudi Arabia to follow the lead of several other Arab states and normalise relations with Tel Aviv.
Four Arab states - Bahrain, Morocco, Sudan and the UAE - agreed to normalise ties with Israel through the Trump administration-brokered Abraham Accords.
Though ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia have ostensibly improved, Saudi officials have publicly dismissed any move towards full-fledged normalisation, saying that only the creation of a viable Palestinian state could pave the way for such a deal.
Saudi officials have reassured the Palestinian Authority that it will continue to back their interests.
The Palestinian source said Saudi Arabia was maintaining this demand in meetings with the US.
"One of Saudi Arabia's conditions for the US to complete a full normalisation agreement with Israel is full recognition of the State of Palestine at the United Nations. This condition is a priority for the Palestinian leadership," the source said.
Riyadh has also reportedly asked that the US approve a Saudi civilian nuclear programme as a condition of its acceptance of normalisation with Israel, to some alarm from the Israelis.
Currently, Israel's enemy Iran is enriching uranium while Israel is believed to possess between 80 and 400 nuclear warheads.
On Tuesday, Israeli opposition leader and former Prime Minister Yair Lapid met in Washington with senior White House officials, where he aired Israeli concerns over the potential inclusion of a Saudi nuclear program in a normalisation deal.
"I would find it difficult to support an agreement that would include uranium enrichment on Saudi soil," Israeli media reported Lapid as telling US officials.
The meetings came as the Saudi ambassador arrived in Iran on Tuesday to assume duties, following Saudi Arabia's diplomatic reconciliation with Israel and the US's longtime adversary.