RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (Caasimada Online) – Saudi Arabia is reportedly seeking certain assurances from the United States, including help developing a civilian nuclear program, fewer restrictions on U.S. arms sales, and security guarantees, as part of a deal to normalize relations with Israel.
The proposed agreement offers President Biden the opportunity to broker a historic deal that would reshape Israel’s relationship with the most influential Arab state in the region.
Context and significance of the proposed agreement
The proposed agreement could fulfill Biden’s pledge to build on the Trump-era Abraham Accords, which brokered similar diplomatic deals between Israel and other Arab nations such as the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Morocco.
A normalization deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia could also fulfill one of the most cherished goals of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who sees it as a legacy of increasing Israel’s security against its archenemy, Iran.
Analysts suggest that a Saudi-Israeli deal could strengthen regional alliances while downgrading the relative importance of the Palestinian issue.
However, there is a divide among officials and experts in the United States and the Middle East regarding how seriously to consider the proposal from Saudi Arabia, given the strained relationship between Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince, and President Biden.
Saudi Arabia’s loss of trust in the U.S
The Saudi proposal came to light hours after China brokered a separate agreement allowing Riyadh to restore diplomatic ties with Iran after a seven-year hiatus.
Some analysts believe that this agreement indicates Saudi Arabia’s loss of trust in the United States as a security defender and its shift towards closer ties with China while attempting to ease its longstanding rivalry with Iran as a hedging strategy.
The immediate implications of the agreement are uncertain. However, it could prompt the Biden administration to prioritize brokering a deal between Riyadh and Tehran.
Challenges and obstacles facing a Saudi-Israeli deal
Numerous challenges are standing in the way of a Saudi-Israeli deal. Violence between Israel and the Palestinians has recently been rising under the country’s new right-wing government.
The Saudi government has repeatedly condemned Israeli actions, making the near-term prospect of a deal uncertain.
Analysts say a significant escalation, such as a new Palestinian intifada or uprising, would render an agreement impossible.
Saudi officials have said they cannot forge normal relations with Israel before establishing a Palestinian state, including formal diplomatic interactions, trade, and travel agreements.
However, some people familiar with the discussions said they believe the Saudis, building closer unofficial ties to Israel, would settle for less than that, according to Wall Street Journal.
U.S. wary of nuclear Saudi Arabia
U.S. officials have long been wary of Saudi efforts to establish a civilian nuclear program, fearing it could be a first step toward a nuclear weapon.
The terms of a security agreement are also unclear. However, they will likely be short of a mutual defense guarantee like the one that binds NATO nations. The prospects and implications of a Saudi-Israeli deal
A potential normalization deal between Saudi Arabia and Israel could have far-reaching consequences for the Middle East and beyond. I
t could mark a significant shift in the balance of power in the region and open up new opportunities for economic, political, and security cooperation between the two countries.
Saudi Arabia perspective on the deal
From Saudi Arabia’s perspective, a deal with Israel could help it counter Iran’s growing influence in the region and enhance its own international standing and legitimacy.
It could also bring economic benefits, such as access to Israeli technology, expertise, and investment and closer ties with Israel’s allies in the West.
From Israel’s perspective, a deal with Saudi Arabia could help it break out of its isolation in the region and gain new partners and allies.
It could also enhance its security and stability by reducing the threats posed by Iran and the Palestinian issue. It could also provide a model for future normalization deals with other Arab and Muslim countries.
However, the challenges and obstacles to a Saudi-Israeli deal should not be underestimated.
The longstanding enmity between Saudi Arabia and Israel, as well as the deep divisions within the Arab and Muslim worlds, could complicate and derail any agreement.
The domestic and international opposition to the deal and the complex and sensitive issues it raises, such as the Palestinian question, nuclear proliferation, and regional security, could also pose significant challenges.