Blinken Briefs Bibi on Talks With MBS About Possible Israel-Saudi Normalisation

Secretary of State Tony Blinken called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday and briefed him on his talks with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS), including the possibility of Saudi Arabia normalising relations with Israel, according to a source familiar with the call.

The Biden administration wants to try and make a diplomatic push for a Saudi-Israeli peace deal in the next six to seven months before the presidential election campaign consumes President Biden’s agenda, as Axios reported two weeks ago. Netanyahu wants to work with the Biden administration on trying to reach a peace agreement with the kingdom — an issue he has said publicly is a top priority for him.

Blinken met MBS on Tuesday night for more than two hours. A senior U.S. official said possible Israel-Saudi normalisation was one of the issues discussed in the meeting.

At a press conference with his Saudi counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud on Thursday, Blinken said the U.S. “will continue to play an integral role in deepening and expanding normalisation” between Israel and the Arab world.

Blinken said Saudi-Israeli normalisation is a priority for the Biden administration “and we will continue to work at it, to advance it in the days, weeks, and months ahead.” The Saudi foreign minister said the kingdom believes that normalisation is in the interest of the region and would bring significant benefits to all. “But without finding a pathway to peace for the Palestinian people, without addressing that challenge, any normalisation will have limited benefits,” he said. The Saudi foreign minister added there is a need to find “a pathway towards a two-state solution” and a “pathway towards giving the Palestinians dignity and justice.”

The Israeli readout of the call between Blinken and Netanyahu didn’t mention Saudi Arabia, but focused on Israel’s concerns regarding a possible “freeze for freeze” agreement between the U.S. and Iran.

State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement that Blinken and Netanyahu “discussed areas of mutual interest, including expanding and deepening Israel’s integration into the Middle East through normalisation with countries in the region.”


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