US working on normalization “roadmap” for Saudi Arabia and Israel

The White House has been working on a “roadmap for normalization” between Israel and Saudi Arabia President Biden’s Visit to the Middle East next month, according to four US sources informed about the matter.

Why it matters: The trip could show that the Biden administration has continued to promote progress in warming relations between Israel and the Arab world after the Trump administration Abraham chordsleading to normalization agreements between Israel and four Arab countries.

Send the news: The White House held a briefing with think tank experts last week about Biden’s trip to the region, raising the theme of a “roadmap for normalization” without elaborating, the four sources said.

  • The White House said at the briefing that there will be no agreement before Biden’s visit, but they are working on it and the president will discuss it with Israeli and Saudi leaders during the trip, the sources said.

What they say: The White House believes any roadmap for normalization will take time and be a lengthy process, said another source briefed on the matter. Another source informed about this described the strategy as a step-by-step approach.

  • A White House National Security Council spokesman said they “support the broadening and deepening of Arab-Israeli ties”.
  • A senior Israeli official said he does not expect a major breakthrough regarding normalization with Saudi Arabia during Biden’s trip, but stressed that an agreement to allow Israeli airlines to use Saudi airspace for flights to India and China is very near.
  • “We don’t see Israel as an enemy, but rather as a potential ally in the many interests we can pursue together, but some issues need to be resolved before we can achieve that,” Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said earlier this year. per Bloombergciting the official Saudi Press Agency.

Quick update: The Biden administration has quietly brokered a deal between Saudi Arabia, Israel and Egypt over a potential deal to complete the transfer of two strategic islands in the Red Sea from Egypt to Saudi Arabia. as Axios first reported

  • If successful, the mediation efforts may lead to separate normalization steps.

Between the lines: A US source briefed on the White House’s plans said that with the roadmap, he believes the White House is trying to lower expectations about what is currently possible and what is not, and to focus on starting a process.

The big picture: During Biden’s visit to the Middle East, the White House also plans for the president to discuss a vision for “integrated missile defense and naval defense” between the US, Israel and several Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, four US sources told. axios.

  • Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said Monday at a hearing of the Foreign Relations and Security Committee in the Knesset that the US and Israel are working on an initiative called “The Middle East Air Defense”. one more push.
  • Gantz said the initiative focuses on working with the US Central Command and other countries in the region to counter attacks with drones, missiles and cruise missiles by Iran and its proxies.
  • A senior Israeli official said the idea is to create a regional network of radars, sensors and air defense systems that will be linked together to provide early warnings and intercept attacks.
  • Gantz said several Iranian attacks in the region have already been prevented. A senior Israeli official said one such attack was the downing of an Iranian drone over Iraq in February 2021 by US forces using Israeli intelligence.

What to watch: The political instability in Israel and the snap elections could alter the calculations in Saudi Arabia and other countries in the region regarding normalization steps.

Go deeper: US Negotiating Agreement Between Saudis, Israelis and Egyptians

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