Despite the recent rapprochement between long-time regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran, the prospect of normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia is progressing, Israel Hayom has learned.
According to a United States official, Washington is examining demands put forth by Riyadh as conditions for normalization with Jerusalem.
Possible U.S. presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who visited Israel last week, said that there is “a great opportunity to have a U.S.-Israel-Arab country alliance vis-à-vis the nefarious influence of the Iranians, and I think that is something that is doable. I think with proper policy and proper relations you could see Saudi Arabia recognize the existence of Israel.”
Israel’s political echelon hopes that Riyadh will seek to boost ties with Washington as it seeks to maintain its connections with superpowers.
Saudi Arabia is said to have presented the following demands: a defense alliance, a civilian nuclear program, increased trade, and putting an end to criticism of Riyadh over the 2018 killing of Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi.
The efforts are led by U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who visited Riyadh, and later Jerusalem, two weeks ago. Graham stressed that although he was a Republican, he would support President Joe Biden if the administration accepted the Saudi demands and this would eventually lead to normalization between Jerusalem and Riyadh. He warned, however, that there was a “limited” time frame for the opportunity.
“If we do not do it in 2023 or early 2024, the window might close,” he said.
According to the U.S. source, the process of analyzing the demands will take several months. The source said that for Israel, the most worrisome demand is for civilian nuclear power, however, at this point, Jerusalem’s position on the matter is unclear.
Striking a peace agreement with Saudi Arabia is one of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s main goals in his current term. His close adviser Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer stated several times that a policy change by the Biden administration with regard to Saudi Arabia could lead to peace between Riyadh and Jerusalem and a Nobel Prize for Biden.