DUBAI, Feb. 2 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia would be willing to accept a political commitment from Israel to create a Palestinian state, rather than anything more binding, in a bid to get a defence pact with Washington approved before the U.S. presidential election, three sources said.

Months of U.S.-led diplomacy to get Saudi Arabia to normalise relations with Israel and recognise the country for the first time were shelved by Riyadh in October in the face of mounting Arab anger over the war in Gaza.

But Saudi Arabia is increasingly keen to shore up its security and ward off threats from rival Iran so the kingdom can forge ahead with its ambitious plan to transform its economy and attract huge foreign investment, two regional sources said.

To create some wiggle room in talks about recognising Israel and to get the U.S. pact back on track, Saudi officials have told their U.S. counterparts that Riyadh would not insist Israel take concrete steps to create a Palestinian state and would instead accept a political commitment to a two-state solution, two senior regional sources told Reuters.

Such a major regional deal, widely seen as a long-shot even before the Israel-Hamas war, would still face numerous political and diplomatic obstacles, not least the uncertainty over how the Gaza conflict will unfold.

A pact giving the world's biggest oil exporter U.S. military protection in exchange for normalisation with Israel would reshape the Middle East by uniting two long-time foes and binding Riyadh to Washington at a time when China is making inroads in the region.

A normalisation deal would also bolster Israel's defences against arch-rival Iran and give U.S. President Joe Biden a diplomatic victory to vaunt ahead of the Nov. 5 presidential election.

The Saudi officials have privately urged Washington to press Israel to end the Gaza war and commit to a "political horizon" for a Palestinian state, saying Riyadh would then normalise relations and help fund Gaza's reconstruction, one of the regional sources said.

"The message from the kingdom to America has been: 'Stop the war first, allow humanitarian aid and commit to a just and lasting solution to give the Palestinians a state'," said Abdelaziz al-Sagher, head of the Gulf Research Center think-tank in Jeddah, who is familiar with the ongoing discussions. "Without it, Saudi Arabia can't do anything."

The problem, though, is that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has spent much of his political career opposing Palestinian statehood, has rejected outright any U.S. and Arab aspirations for a Palestinian state once the Gaza war is over.

"Normalisation does require really - if not legally, at least politically - a commitment from the Israelis that they are open to a two-state solution," said one of the senior regional sources familiar with Saudi thinking.

"If Israel stopped its military offensive on Gaza - or at least declared a ceasefire - it would make it easier for Saudi Arabia to go ahead with the deal," the person said.

The Saudi government's communication office did not respond to requests for comment.

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