Report: Biden's Top Advisor Discussed Saudi-Israel Normalization With MBS

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Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at Royal Palace in Neom, Saudi Arabia, in August.
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at Royal Palace in Neom, Saudi Arabia, in August.Credit: SAUDI ROYAL COURT/ REUTERS

U.S. President Joe Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan reportedly discussed the possibility of Saudi Arabia normalizing relations with Jerusalem during a recent meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Multiple sources told Axios’ Barak Ravid that the senior American official broached the idea of Saudi Arabia joining the Abraham Accords – which have seen several regional states establish relations with Israel over the past year – without the idea being immediately rejected.

Sullivan has been the highest-ranking Biden administration official to visit Saudi Arabia. His visit came as the U.S. attempts to press the kingdom to move toward a ceasefire in its years-long war with Houthi rebels in Yemen.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan is traveling to Saudi Arabia to meet with Crown Prince Mohamed bin SalmanCredit: Evan Vucci/AP

According to Axios, “the Saudis said normalizing relations with Israel would take time and gave Sullivan a list of steps that would have to be taken first,” including what one American described as “improvements in U.S.-Saudi bilateral relations” which have been strained by the Biden administration’s criticism of bin Salman for his involvement in the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Progress on Israeli-Saudi relations would likely be part of a larger deal involving progress on Israeli-Palestinian peace, Axios added, noting that U.S. officials had recently informed their Israeli counterparts, as well as Jewish leaders, that they were in touch with a number of nations which could potentially establish relations with Jerusalem.

The Abraham Accords, a normalization agreement between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain, was signed at the White House last September. Later on, Sudan and Morocco also joined the accords, which include cooperation on a variety of civilian matters, and the mutual opening of diplomatic delegations.

Last August, Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud said that his country remains committed to peace on the basis of the Arab Peace Initiative, which states that normalization with Israel would only come as part of a wider agreement to establish a Palestinian state.

As part of the Arab Peace Initiative, endorsed by the Arab League in 2002, Arab states led by Saudi Arabia have called for a Palestinian state drawn along borders that pre-date Israel’s capture of territory in a 1967 war as well as a capital in East Jerusalem and the right of return for refugees, points rejected by Israel. “Once that is achieved, all things are possible," Prince Faisal said.

Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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