Secret meeting in the desert between Israeli and Saudi leaders fails to reach normalization agreement

RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA – When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flew to Saudi Arabia last weekend for a secret night meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, he and his Washington allies were, said Saudi advisers and U.S. officials.

Instead, after the meeting, the Israeli leader returned home empty-handed, and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the time also considered the Trump administration’s efforts to reorganize policy and rebuild the region in Saudi Arabia to be remarkable. the protective cover against Iran slipped out of his hands, advisers and officials said.

U.S. officials hoped to build on the momentum of the so-called Abrahamic Agreement, which formalized relations between Israel and the other two Arab states in the Gulf, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, and removed the biggest obstacle to Israel’s diplomatic integration in the region. central part to curb Tehran.

But Prince Mohammed, according to Saudi advisers and U.S. officials, withdrew from the settlement, largely because of U.S. election results. Saudi aides said the prince, eager to build ties with the incoming administration of elected president Joe Biden, was reluctant to take that step when he could later make an agreement to strengthen ties with the new U.S. leader.

Mr Biden said he also supported normalization agreements between Arab states and Israel. He has taken a tougher stance on Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, especially with regard to the assassination of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi. And an agreement under the new president could put relations between the Biden government and Riyadh on a firmer footing, Saudi aides said.