U.S. President Joe Biden said on Friday that a normalization agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia could be coming, according to Reuters.
“There’s a rapprochement maybe under way,” Biden told 2024 reelection campaign contributors at an event in Freeport, Maine.
He did not provide any details, but the comments came as Biden dispatched U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to discuss the possibility of the kingdom joining the Abraham Accords.
Middle East envoy Brett McGurk and Amos Hochstein, special presidential coordinator for global infrastructure and energy security, also joined Sullivan on the trip, according to Axios.
In a readout of the July 27 visit, the White House said that Sullivan met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) and senior Saudi officials “to discuss bilateral and regional matters, including initiatives to advance a common vision for a more peaceful, secure, prosperous, and stable Middle East region interconnected with the world.”
Sullivan last visited Saudi Arabia on May 7, together with McGurk and Hochstein. Sullivan told MBS during that visit that the United States sees an opportunity for an Israel-Saudi deal by the end of the year, according to Axios, citing two U.S. officials who said that the White House wants a deal before Biden goes into full campaign mode.
The prince reportedly said he wants to shift from incremental steps to one big package that would include stronger U.S. military cooperation.
The U.S. officials argued that it is in Saudi Arabia’s interest to forge an agreement while Biden is in office as it would receive bipartisan support. While Republicans support a Saudi deal, many Democrats would only do so if an agreement is made under their party’s president, the American officials claimed.
On Sunday, Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen met in Jerusalem with the Biden administration’s senior adviser for regional integration, Dan Shapiro, who was recently tasked with promoting and broadening the Abraham Accords.
“In my conversation with special envoy Shapiro we agreed to work together and cooperate closely in order to maintain our good relations with our current allies and to work to expand the circle of peace and normalization with new partners in the Middle East and elsewhere,” Cohen said, according to a readout of the conversation.