UNITED NATIONS: Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has accused regional rival Saudi Arabia of betraying the Palestinians by seeking to normalise relations with Israel.
“We believe that a relationship between regional countries and the Zionist regime would be a stab in the back of the Palestinian people and of the resistance of the Palestinians,” he said.
“The initiation of a relationship between the Zionist regime and any country in the region, if it is with the aim to bring security for the Zionist regime, will certainly not do so,” Raisi told a news conference on Wednesday as he attended the UN General Assembly.
Saudi Arabia and Israel have bonded in part over shared hostility to Iran’s clerical state, although Riyadh has moved to ease tensions with Tehran through talks brokered by China.
US President Joe Biden is hoping to transform the Middle East — and score an election-year diplomatic victory — by securing recognition of the Jewish state by Saudi Arabia.
Tehran has ‘no problem’ with IAEA inspections
On Wednesday, Biden met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, Biden quipped that he had “Irish optimism” on securing a deal with Saudi Arabia.
“If you and I, 10 years ago, were talking about normalisation with Saudi Arabia,” Biden told Netanyahu, “I think we had to look at each other like, ‘Who’s been drinking what?”
Netanyahu, who has had rocky relations with Biden, said he believed a deal was “within our reach” and credited him. “I think that under your leadership, Mr President, we can forge a historic peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia,” Netanyahu said.
Saudi Arabia’s de factor ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has said that US-brokered talks are moving forward on normalisation with Israel.
In an interview with Fox News, MBS said talks were moving forward with Israel, denying a media report that the process was suspended. “Every day we get closer,” the prince said. “For us, the Palestinian issue is very important. We need to solve that part,” he said.
“We need to ease the lives of the Palestinians”, he added.
Iran has no issue with the UN nuclear watchdog’s inspection of its nuclear sites, Raisi said on Wednesday, days after Tehran barred multiple inspectors assigned to the country.
“We have no problem with the inspections but the problem is with some inspectors ... those inspectors that are trustworthy can continue their work in Iran,” Raisi told media.
Iran’s move was a response to a call led by the United States, Britain, France and Germany at the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Board of Governors earlier this month for Tehran to cooperate immediately with the agency on issues including explaining uranium traces found at undeclared sites.
“Tehran’s decision was in reaction to some unfair statements by the Western members of the IAEA,” Raisi said. UN nuclear watchdog chief Rafael Grossi has condemned Iran’s “disproportionate and unprecedented” move.
Tehran’s move, known as “de-designation” of inspectors, is allowed; member states can generally veto inspectors assigned to visit their nuclear facilities under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and each country’s safeguards agreement with the agency governing inspections.
Published in Dawn, September 22nd, 2023