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Saudi Arabia paused its diplomatic efforts to normalize relations with Israel due to the outbreak of war between Hamas and Israel, a major setback for the United States’ efforts to foster ties between the Jewish nation and Arab countries, Bloomberg reported.

According to anonymous sources, Saudi officials conveyed this decision to the US, characterizing it as a temporary suspension rather than a complete abandonment of diplomatic efforts.

Before Hamas launched last week’s surprise attack from the Gaza Strip, Saudi Arabia and Israel had said they were moving steadily toward a deal that could have reshaped the Middle East, according to Reuters.

The normalization agreement was a key step for the kingdom toward securing a defense deal with the US. Initially, Saudi Arabia had suggested that it would not let its pursuit of a US defense pact be derailed even if Israel did not provide significant concessions to the Palestinians in their bid for statehood.

Such an approach would have sidelined the Palestinians and risked angering many Arabs around the region. However, the recent outbreak of hostilities altered the geopolitical landscape, Reuters wrote.

The conflict and the death toll have raised concerns across the Arab world, prompting Saudi officials to put a pause on normalization talks until the Palestinian issue is addressed.

Hamas has killed more than 1,400 Israelis and kidnapped at least 155 people, including foreigners, during their Oct. 7 attack. On the Palestinian side, more than 2,670 people have been killed so far amid ongoing Israeli strikes on Gaza, the Associated Press reported.

Meanwhile, over the weekend, Israel continued to prepare for a wider offensive as hundreds of thousands of Gaza residents tried to flee south after Israel ordered an evacuation of the northern half of the territory.

As the siege of Gaza continues and a water crisis develops, Riyadh has begun engaging with Iran to prevent a broader surge in violence across the region. Iran, over the weekend, warned that the war would widen if the siege of Gaza isn’t stopped.

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