Israel has reportedly advised Saudi Arabia to finalize any potential agreements before the conclusion of Biden’s presidency, citing difficulties in securing bipartisan approval for Saudi demands if Donald Trump were to return to the Oval Office, Haaretz has reported.
The Saudi leadership has purportedly sought a defense pact with the US, advanced defense technology, and a civilian nuclear program. Israel believes garnering enough Republican support for such an agreement is feasible during Biden’s term due to their favorable stance toward Israel, an Israeli official told Haaretz.
Trump’s potential second term, commencing in January 2025, cannot be ruled out, with recent polling from The New York Times showing him in a neck-and-neck race with Biden.
For Saudi Arabia to consider a defense agreement robust and secure, it would need to be ratified as a formal treaty, not merely a presidential decree which could be annulled by future administrations. Such treaties necessitate a two-thirds majority in the Senate.
Despite potential reservations from Senate Republicans to grant Biden a significant diplomatic victory in the lead-up to elections, Israeli authorities anticipate they could be persuaded to back a peace deal following intensive lobbying efforts from pro-Israel groups.
Washington’s pursuit of an Israeli-Saudi normalization agreement is rooted in the perceived advantages to US national security. Saudi Arabia, among other Gulf states friendly to Western interests, has been adjusting to America’s shifting focus toward the Asia-Pacific and Russia by fostering ties with Iran and China.
The proposed agreement would likely entail a generous aid package from Riyadh to Palestinian institutions in the West Bank, a marked reduction in Saudi Arabia’s burgeoning relationship with China, and assistance in ending the Yemeni civil war.
However, the current status of discussions is unclear, as is Israel’s role in these negotiations.
National Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi aimed to moderate expectations during a recent interview with the Kan public broadcaster, stating that talks had not reached the stage where a comprehensive deal was under consideration.
Joe Biden hinted at potential progress in achieving this long-sought-after deal during a recent interview, despite the consistent downplaying of its possibility by US officials.
According to a New York Times report, Saudi Crown Prince bin Salman exhibited a growing openness toward a normalization deal with Israel during a May visit by US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. This, in turn, spurred Biden to initiate a dedicated effort to achieve such an agreement.
Foreign Minister Eli Cohen expressed optimism on Monday about the prospect of achieving peace with Saudi Arabia, stating that they were closer than ever before.
Israel’s previous leader, Netanyahu, had been adamant about securing a normalization deal with Saudi Arabia, considering it a top priority that could lead to resolving both the Arab-Israeli and Israeli-Palestinian conflicts.
While Biden had pledged to marginalize Saudi Arabia due to its questionable human rights record and the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, relations between the US and Saudi Arabia warmed in 2022. Biden’s visit to both Israel and Saudi Arabia that year reportedly aimed to secure various commitments from Riyadh, such as increasing oil production to alleviate gas prices and strengthening the alliance amidst changing Middle East and Asian geopolitical dynamics.