Skip to main content

Saudi Arabia 'very, very close' to US security pact tied to Palestinian state

In separate comments on Monday, the Saudi and US top diplomats said bilateral agreements on security and defense cooperation — which Riyadh is seeking if it agrees to normalize ties with Israel — were imminent.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (C) speaks with Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan (R) as they walk past portraits of the founding leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council during the Joint Ministerial Meeting of the GCC-US Strategic Partnership discussing the humanitarian situation in Gaza, at the GCC Secretariat in Riyadh on April 29, 2024. (Photo by EVELYN HOCKSTEIN / POOL / AFP) (Photo by EVELYN HOCKSTEIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan said on Monday that bilateral agreements with the United States were “very, very close” as Riyadh seeks to secure defense and security pacts with the kingdom in exchange for normalizing relations with Israel.

"On the bilateral agreements between the kingdom and the US, we are very, very close, and most of the work has already been done. We have the broad outlines of what we think needs to happen on the Palestinian front,” the top Saudi diplomat said at a special meeting of the World Economic Forum in Riyadh.

He added that the only way such agreements would work is if there is “truly a pathway to a Palestinian state.”

In similar comments, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also said a US-Saudi security pact with Saudi Arabia was near “completion.”

Speaking on a WEF panel on Monday, he said, “The work that Saudi Arabia and the United States have been doing together in terms of our own agreements, I think, is potentially very close to completion.”

He added, “But then in order to move forward with normalization, two things will be required: calm in Gaza and a credible pathway to a Palestinian state.”

Blinken arrived in Saudi Arabia on Monday on the first leg of a regional tour that will also take him to Jordan and Israel. According to the State Department, Blinken’s visit, his seventh to the region since the Israel-Hamas war broke out in October, comes in the framework of US efforts to achieve a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip and secure the release of the hostages held by Hamas.

Blinken and regional leaders will also discuss ways to achieve peace and security “through a pathway to an independent Palestinian state with security guarantees for Israel,” according to the State Department.

Blinken and Bin Farhan met in Riyadh earlier on Monday on the sidelines of a meeting of the foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council. The pair reviewed the latest developments in the Gaza Strip and agreed on the need for an immediate cease-fire and the delivery of urgent humanitarian assistance to the coastal enclave, the official Saudi Press Agency reported. 

Before the Israel-Hamas war erupted on Oct. 7, Washington had been pushing for a normalization of Saudi-Israeli ties. Saudi Arabia had conditioned any normalization on a US-Saudi defense agreement under which Washington would pledge to provide military support in the event of an attack on Saudi territory. Saudi officials say such an agreement would help the kingdom deter any Iranian threats. The kingdom was also pushing for a deal to secure US support for its civilian nuclear program and domestic uranium enrichment. 

But after Hamas launched its cross-border assault on southern Israel, prompting a brutal Israeli military response in the Gaza Strip, Saudi Arabia paused discussions on the US-led talks.

Since then, Saudi officials have repeatedly said that the kingdom will not establish diplomatic ties with Israel unless an independent Palestinian state is created on the 1967 borders.

The negotiations over the defense pacts resumed in January.