Tue, 12 Dec 2023

JERUSALEM, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) -- Israel's foreign minister said on Thursday that a normalization deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia could be completed by early 2024.

"I think there is certainly a likelihood that in the first quarter of 2024 ... we will be able to be at a point where the details (of an agreement) are finalized," Eli Cohen told Israel's Army Radio.

On Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud expressed hope for the normalization negotiations on separate occasions.

Netanyahu said during his visit to the UN General Assembly that a normalization deal is "within reach," according to a statement released by his office.

The Saudi crown prince told Fox News that "every day we get closer (to a deal)," but stressing the welfare of Palestinians remains an issue.

The main obstacles between the two countries include Saudi Arabia's desire to have a civilian nuclear program and the need for progress in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Cohen expressed his confidence in the negotiation, adding "the gaps can be bridged."

Israel has official ties with only a handful of Arab countries, including Egypt and Jordan. The United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Morocco agreed to normalize their ties with Israel in 2020.

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