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War on Gaza: Saudi Arabia says Israel recognition still possible as Iran promises more attacks

Meanwhile, fears continue to grow over spread of conflict in Middle East as aid groups warn of starvation in Gaza
Saudi Arabia Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud attends a session during the World Economic Forum  annual meeting in Davos on 16 January 2024 (AFP)
Saudi Arabia Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud attends a session during the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos on 16 January 2024 (AFP)

Saudi Arabia on Tuesday suggested recognition of Israel could still be on the cards if the Palestinian issue were resolved, as strikes continued to pound the besieged Gaza Strip.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud was asked at a panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos whether Saudi Arabia could take this step as part of a wider agreement after a resolution of the Palestinian conflict, to which he replied "certainly".

A number of Arab states recognised Israel following negotiations brokered by former US President Donald Trump in 2020, including the UAE and Bahrain.

However, neighbouring Saudi Arabia has been hesistant to follow suite and the conflict in Gaza has seemingly shattered hopes from the US that the kingdom would make progress in negotiations.

At the same conference in Switzerland, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani told an that “there is no magic formula to return to what was before 7 October without a real solution to the two-state solution”.

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He added that ending the war, releasing Palestinian hostages and prisoners, as well as the situation in the West Bank were all issues that must be quickly addressed.

Conflict fears

The comments by the two regional leaders come as diplomatic fallout continued from an attack carried out by Iran in northern Iraq, with the latter recalling its ambassador to Tehran and fears mounting over a wider regional conflict.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) launched the strikes on Monday claiming it was targeting Israeli “espionage centres” in the city of Erbil.

At least four people were killed in the attack, and six others were wounded, according to the regional security council of Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region.

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Later on Tuesday, Shell reportedly suspended all shipments through the Red Sea indefinitely after US and UK strikes on Yemen’s Houthi rebels triggered fears of further retaliation.

The Houthis also claimed a missile strike on a US-owned cargo ship near the Gulf of Oman on Monday.

The attacks across the region come as agencies warned of the threat of mass starvation in the Gaza Strip.

The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) released a video showing the dire situation facing Palestinian refugees who have been displaced by the Israeli bombardment of the enclave.

“Some people have not eaten in days, the children have no winter clothes, there’s no medical care. Most products are not available on the market and when they are available, they are very expensive,” said Olga Cherevko from the OCHA team.

“Shelter is a huge need and of course food, and most of all peace.”

Gaza’s health ministry said on Tuesday that the number of Palestinians killed by Israel had risen to 24,285, with at least 61,154 others wounded since the start of Israel’s attacks on 7 October. 

According to the ministry, Israeli forces committed “15 massacres against families” in the Gaza Strip, killing 158 people and injuring 320 others during the past 24 hours.

West Bank ready for 'implosion'

Elsewhere, Israeli defence officials have warned that the occupied West Bank is "on the brink of an implosion" as raids and settler attacks have continued to mount, according to a report by Haaretz on Tuesday.

The Israeli army attributed the cause of increasing tensions in the West Bank to the government's failure to make decisions that would improve Palestinian's financial situations in the West Bank.

As a result, the Israeli army transferred the elite Duvdevan unit from fighting in Gaza to the West Bank over the weekend, due to the army's fears of an escalation in the territory.

The Israeli army has been warning the far-right Israeli government that a refusal to allow West Bank Palestinians to resume working in Israel and a refusal to carry out a tax transfer to the Palestinian Authority,is pushing the West Bank to boiling point.

Near-nightly raids by the Israeli army and settler attacks on Palestinians have also dramatically increased tensions in the West Bank.

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