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Scoop: Sullivan to Meet MBS to Push Saudi Side of Israel Mega-Deal

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan will travel to Saudi Arabia to meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Thursday about a potential mega-deal that would include Saudi normalization with Israel.

Why it matters: With the war in Gaza ongoing and the U.S. presidential election just seven months away, White House officials admit there’s a slim chance they can pull off the historic peace agreement. Sullivan’s trip shows President Biden is still determined to pursue it.

The White House continues to work toward a draft U.S.-Saudi defense treaty and understandings related to U.S. support for a Saudi civilian nuclear program, according to four U.S. and Israeli officials.

  • U.S. officials hope to reach a bilateral agreement with the Saudis and then possibly present it to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose side of the deal would include committing to a path toward a two-state solution.
  • Netanyahu would then face a choice: If he agrees, he could broke a historic peace deal with Saudi Arabia. If he says no, he could be exposed as a rejectionist and lose whatever U.S. support he still has left.
  • The White House declined to comment. The Saudi embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment.

What they’re saying: “There has been lot of progress in the talks between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia about their draft defense treaty. They want to have their side of the deal ready and then put it on our table and say, ‘Take it or leave it,” a senior Israeli official told Axios.

Biden made clear he still thinks the Saudi mega-deal is achievable and relevant, despite talks being derailed by Hamas’ Oct. 7 terrorist attack and Israel’s military operation in Gaza.

  • “I won’t go into detail now. But look, I’ve been working with the Saudis. … They are prepared to fully recognize Israel,” Biden said at a fundraiser in New York with former Presidents Obama and Clinton last week.
  • “But … there has to be a post-Gaza plan here, and there has to be a train to a two-state solution. Doesn’t have to occur today, but it has a progression. I think we can do that,” Biden mused.

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