Two high-ranking Israeli officials will fly to Washington, D.C., next week for talks regarding Iran’s nuclear program and a possible Saudi-Israel peace agreement, Axios reported on Wednesday.
Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer and National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi are expected to meet with White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and other senior officials at the White House and the State Department, the news site reported.
The Prime Minister’s Office and the White House would not confirm the Axios report.
Addressing reports that Iran is building a nuclear facility deep enough underground to withstand U.S. “bunker buster” bombs, Hanegbi said at Herzliya Conference 2023 at Reichman University on Tuesday:
“It’s not a surprising thing. It’s the Iranian approach to move facilities underground to maintain their immunity. This of course limits the ability to attack, but what can be said is that there is no place that cannot be reached.”
He said that Israel hopes to avoid the necessity of an attack but is preparing for the possibility it will have no choice but to resort to military force.
The Israeli officials will also meet amid reports of warming ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has spoken by phone with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to discuss normalization between the two countries, according to a report Monday.
Foreign Minister Eli Cohen has also been in phone contact with the Saudi leader.
On Tuesday, Hanegbi denied there had been a conversation between Netanyahu and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the last months.
However, he said of the Saudi leader, “There is a leader in Saudi Arabia of whom there has probably never been the like in the world. A man who took his country 180 degrees in a different direction, a revolutionary and bold leader. If he thinks that it is possible to reach normalization with Israel, it will happen. I believe there is a chance that it will happen.”
Netanyahu has said that peace with Saudi Arabia would be a “quantum leap” for Arab-Israeli rapprochement, telling JNS in October, “the big prize is peace with Saudi Arabia, which I intend to achieve.”