By Oct. 6, 2023, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were on the verge of making peace and ending the Israel-Arab conflict. The deal on the table envisioned Saudi Arabia joining the Abraham Accords with full normalization of relations.
The agreement would not have required the creation of a Palestinian state. This was deliberate. Like Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Morocco and Sudan before it, Saudi Arabia understood that if a Palestinian state was a prerequisite to any peace agreement, there would be no such agreement.
This is because the Saudis know that the Palestinian leadership—whether Hamas or the Palestinian Authority—seeks the destruction of Israel and will never agree to peace with it. Indeed, the Palestinians were offered their own state in 1948, 2000, 2005 and 2008. Each time, the Palestinian leadership chose war over peace. MBS has no intention of giving the Palestinians veto power over Saudi Arabia’s national security decisions.
At least, that was true until U.S. President Joe Biden granted the Palestinians the veto power that MBS opposed.
Biden’s initial unwavering support for Israel in the wake of Oct. 7 has now given way to a rift between Israel and America. The administration desperately wants a ceasefire and is putting pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to agree to one. Moreover, as part of Biden’s “day after” strategy, he insists that Israel agree to a two-state solution and demands that Israel take “concrete” and “irreversible” steps towards that goal.
The president has not yet made support for Israel’s war effort contingent on Israeli capitulation to American demands, but many in the Democratic Party are pushing the president in that direction. It is only a matter of time before Biden finds himself in the midst of a reelection campaign in which many of his core constituents will demand not only a ceasefire and the creation of a Palestinian state, but an end to American support for Israel. He will not have the will to say “no” to his voters. He will capitulate.
Whether or not Biden ultimately betrays Israel, his administration’s demand for a Palestinian state has already done serious damage to the cause of peace. Saudi Arabia cannot afford to appear less sympathetic to the Palestinian cause than an American president. Against his better judgment, MBS has been forced to adopt a two-state solution as official Saudi policy. He is now publicly making it a condition before Saudi Arabia will normalize relations with Israel.
That position guarantees that there will be no peace anytime soon.
Biden may eventually bludgeon Israel into accepting a ceasefire. However, there is no amount of pressure he can exert that will cause any Israeli government—left or right—to agree to the creation of a terrorist state on its border. There will be no Palestinian state anytime soon. The Saudis know this. But rather than antagonize the Biden administration, they are content to let Israel take the blame for the failure to create such a state.
The Biden strategy will prevent Israel and Saudi Arabia from making peace. There will be no Palestinian state, and thus no agreement between Saudi Arabia and Israel. Absurdly, Israel will take all the blame for both. Fighting for its very existence will not be accepted as an excuse.
This is just another day at the office for Joe Biden, a failure for America and a victory for Iran.