Home News U.S., Saudi Arabia negotiate security deal, Israel rejects big deal

U.S., Saudi Arabia negotiate security deal, Israel rejects big deal

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Two years into Biden’s presidency, his aides began negotiating with Saudi leaders to establish diplomatic ties with Israel.But when the war between Israel and Hamas broke out last October Negotiations break down.

U.S. and Saudi officials have trying to resurrect Prospects for reaching an agreement Make more demands on Israel -Irreversible steps towards a ceasefire in Gaza and the establishment of a Palestinian state.Now, the officials say they are close to finalizing a deal on the main elements the Saudis want from the deal: a U.S.-Saudi mutual defense agreement and cooperation on Saudi civilian nuclear programs.

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke in private with Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, about the issues. Visited Riyadh last monthAccording to the State Department. White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan is expected to travel to Saudi Arabia and Israel this weekend to follow up.

But there is no sign that Israeli leaders are willing to join in, despite the symbolic value for Israel of establishing ties with Saudi Arabia, the most powerful Arab state.

This resistance, and Potential full-scale attack The attack by Israeli forces on the Palestinian city of Rafah has put in jeopardy a potential three-way grand negotiation envisioned by Biden as the basis for a long-term solution to the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejects calls for Palestinian state explain It will become a “horror paradise”. Opinion polls show that a majority of Israelis are also opposed.Mr Netanyahu stops short of proposing Gaza governance system, Defense Minister Yove Galante criticize him Wednesday because of the lack of such a plan.

Since Blinken’s visit to Saudi Arabia, U.S. and Saudi officials have challenged Netanyahu, publicly saying they are close to agreeing on a package for Israel. They say Netanyahu can either accept the mega-deal, promote regional peace and potential security cooperation with Saudi Arabia against their common adversary Iran, or reject the deal and perpetuate a cycle of Israeli-Palestinian violence and Israeli The region’s isolation is perpetuated. .

“We will continue to work to finalize the bilateral components of such an agreement and a path to an independent Palestinian state,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said. explain This month.

The “bilateral” part refers to negotiations between the United States and Saudi Arabia on their agreement, which in addition to the defense treaty also deals with The Kingdom’s civilian nuclear program and uranium enrichmentthe sale of advanced U.S.-made weapons and a possible trade deal.

U.S. officials have emphasize Israel must agree to Palestinian statehood before any deal can be finalized.Mr Sullivan delivered the message May 4, at the Financial Times conference in London.

“The comprehensive vision is bilateral understanding between the United States and Saudi Arabia, plus normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia, plus meaningful steps on behalf of the Palestinian people,” he said, adding: “All of these It all has to come together.”

This month, some Saudi and U.S. policy analysts briefed by Saudi officials viewed the bilateral agreement as “Plan B“–may be best course Because the Israeli and Palestinian part seems too difficult accomplish.

Saudi officials have not made any such proposals publicly and continue to insist on a larger deal tied to Israel’s commitment to a Palestinian state. But they noted how far U.S.-Saudi talks have progressed.

“We are very, very close; most of the work has been done,” Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said at the World Economic Forum in Riyadh last month. On the path to a Palestinian state, he said, “we already have the broad outlines of what we think needs to happen.”

He suggested that Israel could be persuaded, citing “mechanisms within the toolbox of the international community that can overcome resistance by any party, by any spoiler, by any party.”

However, even Saudi Arabia’s most direct demand for Israel – a sustainable ceasefire in Gaza – currently appears unattainable.As Israel avoids committing to a permanent ceasefire, Arab mediators work to get Israel to agree to a temporary ceasefire to release some hostages Shaken last week.At the same time, Israel has also stepped up its Rafa strikesmore than a million Palestinians have sought asylum there.

Saudi Arabia, the United States and other countries Warning to Israel No Conduct a major offensive There.

Given this, Saudi officials remain wary of the domestic political costs of normalizing relations with Israel.

“At this stage, it looks unlikely,” said Ali Shihabi, a Saudi analyst close to the government.

Some officials in the region say the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have little to gain from normalizing ties with Israel under the Abraham Accords the Trump administration helped craft in 2020. Didn’t fulfill the promise Respect the Palestinian territories in the West Bank.

“We hear this all the time from the Saudis: Look what happened to the Emiratis, look what happened to the Bahrainis when they went all out,” said Qais Omari, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “

Before the war, U.S. and Saudi officials planned to demand modest concessions from Israel for the Palestinians, U.S. officials said. But now the stakes are higher. Biden sees a deal involving a Palestinian state as a key component of the war’s outcome. Israel’s acquiescence to such a state may be Prince Mohammed’s only way to gain widespread support for the deal from a population angered by the killing of an estimated 35,000 Palestinians in Gaza.

Mr Biden’s willingness to offer Prince Mohammed a mutual defense treaty and other benefits is a stark departure from his vow during the 2020 presidential campaign to ensure the country remained a “pariah” because human rights violations.These include killing civilians during the war in yemen and The 2018 murder of Jamal KhashoggiWashington Post columnist and Virginia resident attacked by Saudi agents in Istanbul.

U.S. and Saudi officials are working on a defense treaty based on an agreement the U.S. has signed with Japan and its other Asian allies. Both sides are working hard to find conditions that would trigger a mutual defense clause.

Prince Mohammed wants a treaty ratified by a supermajority of the U.S. Senate. But administration officials say that will be difficult to achieve without a strong Israeli and Palestinian component to the deal, as many Democratic and some Republican lawmakers are deeply skeptical of Saudi Arabia.

For Saudi Arabia, the biggest threat is Iran. Saudi officials remain unhappy with the Trump administration’s failure to intervene militarily when Saudi oil facilities were attacked. Drones and missiles in 2019 –Saudi and U.S. officials said the attack was linked to Iran.

“The basic concept they’ve been trying to establish is: What would trigger U.S. kinetic action to defend Saudi Arabia?” said Hussein Ibish, a senior scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington.

“Saudi Arabia and other countries, including the UAE, don’t know when the United States will take action,” he added.

U.S. officials said they also planned to force Saudi Arabia to commit to limiting cooperation with China on military issues and advanced technology, and that the kingdom would continue to buy oil in dollars rather than yuan. However, China has no intention of becoming a security guarantor in the Middle East. Analysts say Saudi Arabia is unlikely to abandon the U.S. dollar, to which its national currency is pegged, in favor of the yuan.

The Biden administration also wants Saudi Arabia to commit to stemming the surge in oil prices, especially as the U.S. presidential election approaches.U.S. and Saudi officials Clash over such commitments in 2022when Saudi Arabia went against Mr. Biden’s wishes.

For Prince Mohammed, locking in U.S. cooperation on the civilian nuclear program is important. U.S. and Saudi negotiators are working out details on how the U.S. will maintain strict oversight of domestic uranium enrichment activities, officials said.

prince mohammed Said he would develop nuclear weapons If Iran did this, some U.S. lawmakers and many Israeli officials would oppose any form of Saudi Arabia’s nuclear program.

Karen Young, a senior research scholar at Columbia University’s Center for Global Energy Policy, said the nuclear program is a “world first.” Prince Mohammed’s “first priority”.

For Saudi Arabia, she asserted, “This has always been a bilateral agreement; this is not a trilateral relationship.”

“It’s so ironic that Israel is so marginalized,” she said.

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