Recent bullish statements by Saudi and Israeli leaders have fueled speculation that a landmark normalization deal is in the offing, despite daunting hurdles that have yet to be cleared.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Gulf kingdom's de facto ruler, said in a rare interview last week with Fox News that talks were progressing and "every day we get closer" to a breakthrough that could reorder the Middle East.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu followed that up by telling the U.N. General Assembly "we are at the cusp" of "an historic peace."