Saudi Arabia seeks US security guarantees, nuclear assistance in return for Israel normalisation – Middle East Monitor

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It is reported that Saudi Arabia is trying to normalize some conditions to be met by the United States in return for its relations with Israel, a report claimed.

According to the New York TimesSaudi Arabia has said it could normalize ties with Israel if the US provides it with security guarantees, assistance in its civilian nuclear program, and the lifting of restrictions on arms sales to the kingdom.

Senior Saudi officials reportedly conveyed those intentions and conditions to Washington last year, when they spoke to US policy experts such as members of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy – a pro-Israel think tank – who visited Riyadh in October.

Robert Satloff, the institute’s executive director and a member of the visiting delegation, then wrote in a report that senior Saudi leaders at the time “expressed bitterly what they believed was US indifference to Saudi security concerns”.

The IS NYT quoted two anonymous sources familiar with the matter, who said that the American negotiations are being led by the National Security Council’s coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa, Brett McGurk, as well as the top assistant to the President Joe Biden for energy issues global, Amos Hochstein. .

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was initially reported to have a direct role in the negotiations, but recently the Saudi ambassador to Washington, Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud, has taken over.

Neither the US nor Saudi Arabia have yet commented on the revelations, but analysts have noted that if Biden and his administration were willing to meet those demands, the US Congress would likely be a major obstacle because many members – especially Democrats – opposed special ties to the kingdom and pushed to downgrade that relationship.

READ: Establishing ties with Saudi Arabia will end Israeli-Arab conflict, Netanyahu says

Senator Christopher S. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut and a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, was quoted as saying that “Our relationship with Saudi Arabia must be a direct bilateral relationship. It should not run through Israel”. Claiming that the Saudis had “consistently behaved badly, over and over again”, he argued that “If we are going to have a relationship with the Saudis where we are making more significant arms sales, it should be in exchange for better. behavior toward the United States, not just better behavior toward Israel”.

Another significant obstacle to such a deal is the increasing violence by Israeli Jewish settlers in the occupied Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which has led to conflict between the settlers – protected by the Israeli military – and the Palestinians. Also, Israeli forces are increasing their raids in cities and camps in the West Bank, killing dozens of Palestinians on a more frequent basis.

The escalation has led to increased criticism of Israel by Saudi Arabia in recent months, and the kingdom has maintained its stance that it will only normalize relations once a Palestinian state is established. Despite the NYT reporting that sources familiar with the discussions believe that Riyadh is willing to compromise on that demand and its criticisms, it may still be an obstacle.

The paper quoted Martin Indyk, former US ambassador to Israel during former president Bill Clinton’s administration, as saying that Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu “wants it. [Saudi Arabia joining the Abraham Accords] badly, and he can only get it with Biden’s help.” Indyk said it creates “a situation where Biden has leverage over Netanyahu to convince him that nothing good can happen to Saudi Arabia if he allows the case in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. to explode.”

But hours after the revelations were released, Saudi Arabia agreed to restore diplomatic ties with Iran, in what appears to be another setback to Saudi-Israeli relations as Tel Aviv sees Riyadh’s rivalry with Tehran as a key driver. to enter the Abraham Accords. . However, an Israeli official has confirmed that the renewed Saudi ties with Iran will not harm Netanyahu’s normalization offer to the kingdom.

READ: Netanyahu’s political enemies tear apart over Saudi-Iranian rapprochement

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