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Saudis said wary of full normalization with Israel, or a deal with current government | TOI - today 18.44 |

WSJ reports that US, Riyadh have agreed on broad terms, hope to finalize details in 9-12 months, though odds low due to joint demand that Israel make major gestures to Palestinians

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has reportedly told aides that he is not ready to fully normalize ties with Israel and is not eager to reach an agreement with the current hardline government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

While U.S. officials have stressed that their approach to an Israel-Saudi deal is not all or nothing and that they also back interim steps that bring the sides closer to full normalization, the stance attributed to the crown prince in a Wall Street Journal report on Wednesday appeared to be the first time a Saudi official was suggesting that such intermediate moves might be as far as Riyadh is willing to go, and that it's not ready for an accord akin to the one Israel signed with the United Arab Emirates in 2020.

And while US officials have privately acknowledged that opponents of Palestinian sovereignty -- who make up a clear majority in Netanyahu's government -- will complicate efforts to secure a normalization deal, since it will require significant moves to revive the two-state solution, the report was also the first time discomfort with the idea of making any sort of deal with the current coalition was expressed by Riyadh as well.



'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Wed Aug 9th, 2023 at 08:13:50 PM EST
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Vice blocked an article criticising Saudi Arabia. This is why we published it instead | The Guardian |

If you want proof Saudi Arabia is trying to improve its reputation, visit the website of the Saudi Tourism Authority. There you will find the Q&A section has recently been updated to state that LGBTQ visitors to the country are welcome. This from a country that executed five men for same-sex relationships just four years ago. The hubris is astonishing. And yet to directly challenge those contradictions isn't easy, something John Lubbock, Daisy Steinhardt and Max Colbert recently learned.

As reported by the Guardian on Tuesday, the journalists had co-written an article for Vice World News, which looked at how LGBTQ Saudis face threats from their families and state authorities. It was commissioned after Vice signed a partnership deal with the MBC Group, a media company controlled by the Saudi government. The article's publication was first delayed and eventually spiked. The reason given? To protect staff at Vice's offices in Riyadh.

At Index on Censorship we followed the Vice story with dismay. It's not that we don't often hear of stories being spiked. We do, routinely. It's just that they usually happen elsewhere, to writers in countries with authoritarian governments such as China and Russia, or, if in the UK, to articles concerning vastly rich individuals, ones who are known to be litigious and take advantage of England's claimant-friendly legal system. We contacted the journalists and offered them a place for their article to be published.

Vice is not the first media outlet to develop relations with the petrol-state. The Independent and Evening Standard have been explicitly accused by the British government of being part-owned by the Saudi Arabian state, which they both deny. The majority owner of the news organisations, Evgeny Lebedev, sold a 30% stake in both in 2017 and 2018 to offshore companies fronted by a Saudi businessman, Sultan Muhammad Abuljadayel.

Vice blocked news stories that could offend Saudi Arabia, insiders say

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Sat Aug 19th, 2023 at 08:10:21 AM EST
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