Report: Biden Intensifies Efforts for Historic Israeli-Saudi Normalization

By Yoni Weiss

President Joe Biden, center left, and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, center, arrive for the family photo during the “GCC+3” (Gulf Cooperation Council) meeting at a hotel in Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea coastal city of Jeddah, in 2022. (Mandel Ngan/Pool Photo via AP, File)

The Biden administration is stepping up its efforts to facilitate a historic agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia, aiming to normalize relations between the two nations, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal on Thursday.

Sources close to the matter indicate that the White House is actively engaging with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, encouraging him to commit to a renewed push for the creation of a Palestinian state. In return, Saudi Arabia would formally recognize Israel.

The proposed agreement presents significant incentives for both sides. For Israel, normalization with Saudi Arabia, a key Arab state, is a highly coveted goal. The Biden administration believes this deal would not only enhance regional stability but also act as a strategic countermeasure to Iran’s increasing influence.

U.S. officials note that recent joint efforts to thwart Iranian threats, including the successful interception of missiles and drones, highlight the advantages of strengthening ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia. They argue that such an alliance could improve Israel’s security and promote wider regional cooperation.

However, the challenge remains to secure Netanyahu’s commitment to discuss Palestinian statehood, amidst domestic resistance and recent security issues. Despite these hurdles, Saudi Arabia continues to push for the establishment of a Palestinian state, seeing it as crucial for regional peace. Riyadh has shown some readiness to accept verbal commitments from Israel, but insists on seeing real progress toward Palestinian statehood.

The Biden administration’s diplomatic push also encompasses broader security and strategic interests, including defense collaboration, nuclear energy development, and regional stability with Saudi Arabia.

Despite these diplomatic efforts, ongoing conflicts, like the war in Gaza, pose significant challenges to advancing these negotiations. Yet, supporters of the normalization deal, like War Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz, remain hopeful. Gantz, a strong proponent of the agreement within the Israeli government, views the potential alliance as a strategic front against shared threats, notably Iran. He also stresses the importance of reconciliation and peace initiatives in Gaza, considering the Saudi-Israeli pact as a pivotal advancement in regional diplomacy.

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