Israel Hopes for Normalization with Saudi as US Oversees Transfer of Red Sea Islands to Kingdom



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    Israel Hopes for Normalization with Saudi as US Oversees Transfer of Red Sea Islands to Kingdom

    The US has been brokering talks between Egypt and Saudia Arabia over the transfer of two Red Sea islands to the Saudis. However since the islands sit on the main exit route from the Red Sea towards Africa, the only route Israel has to travel from Eilat, the negotiations require Israel’s agreement as well. Israel hopes to achieve certain steps towards normalization with the Saudis as a result of the agreement • Full Story

    VINNews

    The US has been brokering talks between Egypt and Saudia Arabia over the transfer of two Red Sea islands to the Saudis. However since the islands sit on the main exit route from the Red Sea towards Africa, the only route Israel has to travel from Eilat, the negotiations require Israel’s agreement as well. Israel hopes to achieve certain steps towards normalization with the Saudis as a result of the agreement.

    In 2017, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi ratified a treaty to hand over Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia. The deal withstood protests and legal challenges in Egypt but was never finalized.

    Currently the islands, which were transferred to Egypt by Israel in the 1979 peace agreement, have a multinational force of observers headed by the US maintaining security in the Red Sea in accordance with those agreements. The Saudis who are willing for the islands to be demilitarized but do not want the multinational force, require Israel’s agreement to change security provisions.

    The Straits of Tiran are Israel’s only water passage from Eilat to the open sea, allowing for shipping to and from Africa and Asia without requiring passage through the Suez Canal, as well as passage to and from the Suez Canal. Israel Navy ships use the waterway to reach open seas, where they carry out naval exercises that are not possible in the narrow confines of the Gulf of Aqaba. The Egyptian blockade of the waterway to Israeli shipping in May 1967 led to the onset of the Six-Day War.

    Israel has agreed to forgo the multinational force present on the islands but has asked for alternative security arrangements in return and is also hoping to gain some normalization with Riyadh – allowing Israeli airplanes to use Saudi airspace and allowing direct flights between the two countries for the sake of Israeli Muslim pilgrims to Mecca and Medina.

    After the Abraham Accords were signed in 2020, Saudi Arabia began allowing Israeli airlines to use its airspace for flights to and from the UAE and Bahrain. But Israel has not yet received such access for flights to India, Thailand and China, which are significantly longer as a result.

    The Saudis, while welcoming the peace with the UAE and Bahrain, have conditioned their own peace agreement with Israel on a solution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

    The White House is hoping to broker an agreement between Egypt and Saudia Arabia before US President Joe Biden’s expected trip to the region late next month. A date has not been set, and the White House has only confirmed that the president will be coming to Israel, but CNN reported last week that US officials are seeking to organize a meeting between Biden and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

    Biden’s trip is also slated to include a summit with the leaders of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Egypt, Jordan and Iraq, several Arab sources told American news outlet Axios.

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    Israel Hopes for Normalization with Saudi as US Oversees Transfer of Red Sea Islands to Kingdom



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