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June 17, 2023 2:28 pm

Challenges Notwithstanding, US Ups Efforts to Secure Israeli-Saudi Normalization

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A Saudi flag flutters atop Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul, Turkey October 20, 2018. Photo: REUTERS File Photo

I24 News – The US administration of President Joe Biden ramped up its efforts to secure a normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia; however, the number and magnitude of the challenges lying ahead do not always inspire optimism in officials intimately familiar with the endeavor, according to a New York Times report on Saturday.

The State Department’s renewed energy in pursuing an agreement that would dramatically expand the scope of the Abraham Accords is, according to NYT, attributable to a phone conversation between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the top US diplomat Antony Blinken.

The loaded conversation preceded Blinken’s trip to Riyadh earlier this month, it is understood.

It is acknowledged in the upper echelons of the Biden administration that a normalization of relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel would represent an event of singular importance in the continued realignment of the Middle East, and could equally reap benefits for Biden, who faces reelection next year.

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It would also make explicit, the report went, that the government of one of the Arab world’s most influential countries has made its support for a Palestinian independent state a lower priority.

“Biden has decided to go for it, and everyone in the administration now understands that the president wants this,” Martin Indyk, a former US ambassador to Israel, was quoted as saying. “When you’re talking about Middle East peace, it takes three to tango.”

However, the multiple roadblocks — not least the recent China-brokered reconciliation between the Saudis and the mullah regime of Iran, Israel’s principle regional nemesis — en route to a deal mean that US diplomats tasked with facilitating communication and thrashing out the outlines of a rapprochement are at times less than optimistic about its likelihood, the report added.

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