Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei has said that countries seeking to normalise relations with Israel “are betting on a losing horse”, state media reported.

“The definite position of the Islamic Republic is that countries that make the gamble of normalisation with Israel will lose. They are betting on a losing horse,” Khamenei was quoted as saying on Tuesday.

A framework US-brokered deal for forging relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia could be in place by early next year, the Israeli foreign minister said last month, after the three countries signalled progress in the complex negotiations.

Saudi Arabia, home to the holiest sites in Islam, in Mecca and Medina, has never recognised Israel and long insisted it would not do so without a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a just settlement for Palestinian refugees.

However the administration of US President Joe Biden is pushing for a landmark deal that could would dramatically redraw the Middle East by formally bringing together two major US partners in the face of Iran — a foreign-policy flourish for President Biden as he seeks reelection in late 2024.

An Israeli minister arrived on Monday in Saudi Arabia for a United Nations conference, the second Israeli minister to the Gulf kingdom in less than a week.

Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi travelled to Riyadh for a meeting of the Universal Postal Union, a specialised UN agency intended to facilitate international cooperation in the postal sector.

Riyadh is bargaining hard for security guarantees from Washington as well as assistance with a civilian nuclear programme that would have uranium enrichment capacity.

The Palestinians have warned that they must be taken into account in any deal, and it is unclear what concessions Israel might be willing to make.

Source » trtworld