April 27, 2024 | Flash Brief

Blinken to Address Normalization With Israel During Visit to Saudi Arabia 

April 27, 2024 | Flash Brief

Blinken to Address Normalization With Israel During Visit to Saudi Arabia 

Latest Developments 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to Saudi Arabia on April 28 for the World Economic Forum. While in Riyadh, Blinken is expected to discuss the normalization of Saudi-Israeli ties with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Blinken’s trip comes weeks after White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan postponed a planned trip to Riyadh, where he intended to talk over the terms of a future deal with the crown prince.  

The Biden administration had been working to secure a normalization deal between Saudi Arabia and Israel before Hamas initiated a war with Israel on October 7, and Washington continues to signal that normalization remains on the table. At a campaign event on March 28, President Joe Biden remarked that he has “been working with the Saudis and with all the other Arab countries” and that “they are prepared to fully recognize Israel.” 

Expert Analysis 

“Like in 2005, when Palestinian violence and the Israeli response ended with turning the page on Arafat and his era, Israel and Arab countries have an opportunity today to move beyond Hamas and think outside the box of ways to attain peace. It remains to be seen whether the Biden administration is serious in presenting innovative peace solutions or merely rehashing the same old tested-and-failed plans, mainly for reasons of political expediency in a U.S. election year.” — Hussain Abdul-Hussain, FDD Research Fellow 

“Iran’s unprecedented missile attack, its accelerating nuclear work, and the threats posed by its proxies from Lebanon to Yemen serve as fresh reminders of the mutual strategic benefit of Saudi-Israeli normalization backed by U.S. defense commitments to both parties. If leaders focus on core long-term strategic interests and avoid complicating the simple, the pathway to normalization remains achievable.” — Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor 

Biden Administration Pursues Normalization 

On January 8, Blinken stated that Riyadh’s interest in normalization “is there, it’s real, and it could be transformative.” During his March trip to Jeddah, Blinken reported that “progress is good” and that the parties are “getting close to a point” of finalizing an arrangement. The Wall Street Journal reported on April 18 that the Biden administration hopes to clinch a Saudi-Israel normalization deal within months. The administration is offering Saudi Arabia a formal defense relationship with the United States and is pushing Israel to commit to Palestinian statehood as incentives for Riyadh to establish diplomatic ties with the Jewish state.  

Washington Ties Normalization to Palestinian Statehood 

While the Abraham Accords, which the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco signed in 2020, do not condition regional peacemaking efforts on progress on the Palestinian front, the Biden administration has repeatedly suggested that Saudi-Israel normalization hinges on prospective Palestinian statehood. “There’s a clear interest in the region in pursuing that [normalization],” Blinken said on January 8. “But it will require that the conflict end in Gaza and it will also clearly require that there be a practical pathway to a Palestinian state.” On March 28, Biden said that “there has to be a train to a two-state solution.” 

Fearing near-term security threats, the Israeli public is less enthused than the Biden administration about Palestinian statehood. The Israel Democracy Institute published polling data in February indicating that a majority of Israelis oppose the creation of a Palestinian state, even as part of a U.S.-brokered Saudi-Israel normalization deal. The survey asked: “Do you support or oppose the notion that as part of a deal to end the war—which will include long-term military quiet, guarantees from the United States, and an agreement with Arab states such as Saudi Arabia—Israel should agree to the establishment of a Palestinian state?” Fifty-one percent of respondents were opposed, 36 percent were in support, and 13 percent were undecided. 

Blinken Ties Saudi-Israel Normalization to Palestinian Statehood,” FDD Flash Brief 

U.S. and Arab Partners Plan for Palestinian Statehood,” FDD Flash Brief 

Majority of Israelis Oppose Palestinian Statehood Due to Security Threats,” FDD Flash Brief 

The US Should Not Tie Israel-Saudi Normalization to a Palestinian State,” by Enia Krivine 


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