Iran's foreign ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani during a press briefing on July 31, 2023

Iran Says Saudi-Israeli Normalization Harmful To Regional Peace

Monday, 07/31/2023

Iran's has once again warned regional countries against normalizing relations with Israel as efforts intensify to expand the Abraham Accords to include Saudi Arabia.

During his weekly press conference Monday, Nasser Kanaani, the spokesperson of Iran's foreign ministry, said that normalization of ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel would harm regional peace and stability.

His remarks came as US President Joe Biden said July 28 that a deal may be on the way after talks his national security adviser held with Saudi officials in Jeddah on the issue.

The Islamic Republic, Israel's sworn enemy, has always opposed normalization of relations between Arab countries and the Jewish state. The regime has repeatedly described the two-state solution – perhaps the only peaceful way to resolve the conflict between Israel and Palestinians -- as a betrayal of the ‘Palestinian cause.’ Top Iranian officials in the past have called for the annihilation of "the Zionist entity.".

“It is quite clear that strengthening and stabilizing the position of the Zionist regime in the region has been America's first priority for many years," Kanaani said, noting that the United States has succeeded in establishing relations between Israel and several regional countries. “But what happened in practice was allowing the Zionist regime to increase its crimes against the Palestinian nation,” he claimed.

Iran's foreign ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani during a press briefing on July 31, 2023

“Peace with the Zionist regime will not help the Palestinian nation; Iran considers any step taken towards the recognition of the regime neither in the interest of Palestine nor in the interest of peace and security in the region,” Kanaani said in a tacit threat that could potentially lead to further unrest in the region by Tehran’s proxies.

In June, Jaber Rajabi, a political analyst and activist, told Iran International that although the Islamic Republic seeks to portray itself as sympathetic to the Palestinians and championing their cause, it never supports those Palestinians who seek peace and stability, such as the Palestine Liberation Organization, and only supports militant groups. 

Rajabi said that the Islamic Republic is not committed to what he described as the Palestinian cause, noting that the regime views the Palestinian issue as a bargaining chip. Among the few cards that the Islamic republic can play in the international arena is fomenting unrest in Israel, he claimed, adding that the regime believes it can only make gains if there is a crisis.

In April, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei claimed that Israel is on the defensive, and the United States has suffered major setbacks and consecutive defeats in the region.

During the Monday press briefing, Kanaani also claimed that Iran is pursuing a policy of good neighborliness and seeks to resolve disputes with neighboring states through dialogue. However, he reiterated that the regime will not tolerate a violation of its rights over a disputed Persian Gulf natural gas field shared with Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

Called Arash in Iran and Durra or Dorra by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait -- the offshore field was discovered in 1967 and is estimated to have a total proven reserves of around 310 million barrels of oil and 20 trillion cubic feet of gas. Kuwait and Saudi Arabia insist that Iran has no right over the field, claiming “exclusive” right, while Iran says any development without its consent is “illegal” according to international laws as it claims 40 percent of the field located in its territorial waters.

“Iran believes that such issues should be discussed within the framework of technical, specialized, and legal negotiations and that it is not helpful to raise them in the media,” Kanaani emphasized. 

His remarks – as well as similar ones by the country’s oil minister on Sunday – came after Kuwait's oil minister Saad Al Barrak told SkyNews Arabia July 27 that his country will start drilling and begin production at the gas field without waiting for border demarcation with Iran, reiterating the two Arab countries’ position that Iran must validate its claim to the field by demarcating its own maritime borders first.

As controversies surrounding the case are escalating, the disputed maritime field in the Persian Gulf has become a litmus test for the recent détente between Tehran and Riyadh.

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