Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has criticized Saudi Arabia for its efforts to normalize relations with Israel, accusing the regional rival of betraying the Palestinian cause. Speaking at a news conference during the UN General Assembly, Raisi stated that any relationship between regional countries and Israel would be detrimental to the Palestinian people and their resistance. He referred to such developments as a “stab in the back” for the Palestinians and their struggle.
Saudi Arabia and Israel have been drawn together partly due to their shared opposition to Iran’s government. However, recent talks brokered by China have aimed to ease tensions between Riyadh and Tehran. U.S. President Joe Biden hopes to secure Saudi Arabia’s recognition of Israel, aiming to reshape Middle East diplomacy and achieve a diplomatic victory in an election year.
During the UN General Assembly, Biden met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, expressing optimism about securing a deal with Saudi Arabia regarding normalization. Netanyahu praised Biden’s leadership and expressed belief in the potential for a historic peace agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia confirmed that talks with Israel were progressing, denying reports of a suspension. He emphasized the importance of resolving the Palestinian issue and improving the lives of Palestinians.
Iran’s President Raisi clarified that Iran had no issue with inspections of its nuclear sites by the UN nuclear watchdog. However, Iran recently barred several inspectors, a move seen as a response to a call by Western members of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for Tehran to cooperate on issues such as explaining uranium traces found at undisclosed sites. Raisi emphasized that Iran’s objection was directed at specific inspectors and that trustworthy inspectors could continue their work.
This move by Iran, known as “de-designation” of inspectors, is allowed within the framework of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, where member states generally have the authority to approve or veto inspectors assigned to visit their nuclear facilities under safeguards agreements with the IAEA. UN nuclear watchdog chief Rafael Grossi had criticized Iran’s action as “disproportionate and unprecedented.”
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