Saudi Crown Prince Didn’t Reject Normalization With Israel in Talks With Sullivan

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud did not reject normalization with Israel out of hand when White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan raised the issue with him during a meeting last month, three U.S. and Arab sources told Axios.

Bin Salman gave Sullivan a list of actions that would have to be taken first before normalization could occur, including improvements in U.S.-Saudi bilateral ties, an American source said.

Any Saudi move to normalize relations with Israel would most likely be part of a larger arrangement in which the U.S. would take steps to restore relations with bin Salman, with whom President Joe Biden has refused to engage directly due to the kingdom’s human rights record, particularly the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Israel would also have to take action on the Palestinian issue if there was to be progress on normalization with Riyadh.

If Saudi Arabia did join the “Abraham Accords” peace agreement with Israel, it would be by far the biggest regional player to do so and likely persuade other Arab and Muslim countries to follow suit, according to Axios.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Sullivan discussed expanding the Abraham Accords in their meetings last week with Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, with a senior Israeli official saying that at least one nation would “definitely” sign onto the accords in the next year.

During a trilateral meeting in Washington with the foreign ministers of Israel and the United Arab Emirates last week, Blinken said that the U.S. “is committed to continue building on the efforts of the last administration to expand the circle of countries with normalized relations with Israel in the years ahead.”

The U.S. has been attempting to get Riyadh to gradually normalize relations with Israel for more than a decade, including considerable effort by the Trump administration.

In a sign of progress during the Trump adminstration, Saudi Arabia backed the UAE’s decision to conclude a peace treaty with Israel and gave Bahrain a green light to join the Abraham Accords.

Trump adviser Jared Kushner, an architect of the Abraham Accords who is convinced that more progress is possible, reportedly urged Sullivan to continue pursuing an agreement with the Saudis when they met during the transition.

The Biden administration is reportedly also exerting an effort to add Comoros, a Muslim-majority island nation off the coast of eastern Africa, to the Abraham Accords, according to i24 News.

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