US Source: Administration examining Saudi demands for normalization with Israel

Demands include the right to a civilian nuclear program, defensive ties, and the end of US criticism of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi

Saudi Crown Prince fist bumps Biden upon his arrival in JeddahBandar Algaloud/Courtesy of Saudi Royal Court/Handout via REUTERS

Despite the recent rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran, Washington is examining Riyadh’s demands for a potential normalization with Israel, an American official told Israel Hayom.

Last week, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis visited Israel. During an address to the Jerusalem Post conference on Thursday, DeSantis accused the Biden Administration of wasting the opportunity to expand the Abraham Accords which were achieved under the Trump Administration and of pushing Saudi Arabia away from normalization with Israel.

“The Biden Administration worked overtime to alienate Saudi Arabia making it more difficult for Israel to forge a normalization deal with Saud Arabia,” DeSantis said. “I think, with a proper policy and proper relations, you could see Saudi Arabia recognize the existence of Israel.”

In Israel, it is hoped that despite Saudi Arabia’s growing ties with China, which brokered the rapprochement with Iran, the kingdom will attempt to maintain a balance with the global superpowers and therefore seek to improve its relationship with the US as well, which have frayed under the Biden Administration.

According to US media, Saudi Arabia has presented in the last year four demands the US must fulfill if the Kingdom is to agree to normalize its relations with Israel. The demands include the right to a civilian nuclear program in light of Iran’s nuclear program, the expansion of defensive ties with the US, the expansion of trade with the US, and an end to US criticism of Saudi Arabia over the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Republican Senator Lindsay Graham, who serves as a mediator between the two parties, visited Riyadh and Jerusalem two weeks ago. While in Israel, Senator Graham stated that if the Biden Administration pursued normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia, he would wholeheartedly support the administration’s efforts despite belonging to the opposing political party.

Senator Graham said: “I told Saudi Arabia I’d like to upgrade our relationship. We have to do it in a way that would be reassuring to our friends in Israel. I want to help President Biden. I told the Crown Prince that the best time to upgrade our relationship is now, that President Biden is very interested in normalizing relationships with Saudi Arabia and in turn, Saudi Arabia recognizing the one and only Jewish state. To the extent I can help make that happen, I will do it.”

“I believe that the Republican Party, writ large, would be glad to work with President Biden to change the relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia, that eventually could result in the recognition of Israel by the Saudi government. That is why I’m here. It will take a lot of effort, but it is worth trying.”

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The US official said that the US was examining the Saudi demands, the most difficult of which is the demand for a nuclear program. The Israeli government’s position on the issue is unknown.

US President Joe Biden is expected to face criticism from the progressive wing of his own Democratic party if he moves to improve America’s relations with Saudi Arabia, as the kingdom has fallen out of favor with much of the party in recent years, particularly following the murder of Khashoggi.

April 30, 2023 | Comments »

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