Biden Considering Deal With Saudi Arabia That Would Include Recognition of Israel: Report

U.S. president Joe Biden fist-bumps Saudi leader Mohammed bin Salman / Reuters
July 28, 2023

President Joe Biden is weighing a deal that would have Saudi Arabia recognize Israel but with concessions from the Jewish state, according to a report.

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman reported Thursday that a U.S. diplomatic team and Saudi leader Mohammed bin Salman are discussing "a U.S.-Saudi mutual security pact." Under the pact, Saudi Arabia would normalize relations with Israel, Friedman wrote, "provided that Israel make concessions to the Palestinians that would preserve the possibility of a two-state solution."

While Friedman argued that the deal would be a "game changer for the Middle East," it would come at costs for Israel. In exchange for Israeli-Saudi normalization, Friedman wants Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to promise "not to annex the West Bank—ever," to build "no new West Bank settlements," and to transfer parts of the West Bank under Israeli control to the Palestinian Authority's control.

Friedman cautioned, however, that "success would be a long shot, at best," especially as the Palestinian Authority is "a mess" and "in no position to engage in peace talks with Israel today."

This is not the first time Biden has attempted to woo Saudi Arabia. Leading up to last year's midterm elections, Biden pleaded with Saudi leaders to delay their decision to cut oil production, the Washington Free Beacon reported. While Biden vowed "consequences" for their refusal, he never followed through with the threat, even praising the Saudis for working to advance U.S. interests.

The Saudis in April and June cut oil production again, inflating energy prices.

Israeli president Isaac Herzog in an address last week to the U.S. Congress revealed the possibility of an Israeli-Saudi deal, saying that it would be a "sea change" in the Middle East.

Herzog said that peace with the Palestinians is impossible, however, as long as the Palestinian Authority "foments terrorism and kills Israeli citizens," the Free Beacon reported.