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Will lingering obstacles derail a Saudi-Israeli pact?

US President Joe Biden, who last year flew direct from Israel to Saudi Arabia on a Middle East tour, has made a landmark normalisation deal between the regional powers a diplomatic priority
— Riyadh (AFP)

Recent bullish statements by Saudi and Israeli leaders have fuelled speculation that a landmark normalisation deal is in the offing, despite daunting hurdles that have yet to be cleared.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Gulf kingdom's de facto ruler, said in a rare interview last week with Fox News that talks were progressing and "every day we get closer" to a breakthrough that could reorder the Middle East.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu followed that up by telling the UN General Assembly "we are at the cusp" of "an historic peace".

United States President Joe Biden, whose aides are driving the push, wants a deal locked in before he becomes consumed by his re-election campaign next year, according to people briefed on the talks.

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