TEL AVIV — The news struck the Israeli government like it were a Houthi missile: Saudi Arabia announced on Wednesday that it would not establish diplomatic relations with Israel without international recognition of an independent Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital and not until the Israeli military halts its offensive in Gaza. The declaration coincided with a further deterioration in US-Israeli ties as President Joe Biden appeared to call Israel’s actions in Gaza “over the top” and following a strained visit to Israel by Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed the Israeli military to prepare for a push into Rafah — the southern Gaza town where more than 1.5 million Palestinian have sought refuge from Israel’s ground offensive, now approaching its fourth month — Washington expressed deep reservations about such a move.
“I’m of the view, as you know, that the conduct of the response in the Gaza Strip, has been over the top,” Biden told reporters on Thursday. “There are a lot of innocent people who are in trouble and dying. And it’s got to stop.”