Netanyahu’s hardline stance over Gaza leaves him increasingly isolated

As nations across the Middle East and the West look towards what comes the 'day after' the war in Gaza, the Israeli prime minister looks increasingly out of touch and alone, write Tom Bennett in Jerusalem and Chris Stevenson

Monday 22 January 2024 17:56 GMT
Israeli soldiers in the Gaza Strip
Israeli soldiers in the Gaza Strip (Israel Defense Forces via Reuters)

Few in the region were surprised by comments from Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, who told CNN that the Gulf nation won’t normalise ties with Israel unless an agreement is reached over a credible path to a Palestinian state.

But the statement is of particular note given that just weeks prior to the war, Israel and Riyadh had been “at the cusp” – in the words of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu – of a landmark normalisation agreement. The proposed deal would have seen Riyadh receive US security guarantees, aid in establishing a civilian nuclear programme, and progress toward resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

For the moment, however, the prospect of such a deal seems some way off. “The war changes so much,” Yossi Mekelberg, an associate fellow at Chatham House’s Middle East and North Africa Programme, told The Independent. “We are in a different situation altogether.”

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