Biden weighs price of Israeli-Saudi normalization
Given Israel’s fractious right-wing government and the Arab Sunni states’ rapprochement with Iran, “the dream of peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia should have been relegated to the realm of science fiction,” writes Ben Caspit. “Surprisingly, it remains real.”
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “dreams” of Israeli-Saudi normalization, a senior Israeli diplomatic source told Caspit. For Netanyahu, another historic star turn as statesman would be a reprieve from the agony of Israeli domestic politics. The country is bitterly divided over his right-wing government’s judicial reform program. There are few rewards for Israel’s longest serving prime minister in the unruly coalition politics, demonstrations in the streets and remonstrations from Washington over the controversial legislation.
A deal with Saudi Arabia remains Netanyahu’s top priority, along with preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, and they are of course linked. While Netanyahu has taken satisfaction in both the impasse over the Iran nuclear deal and increased US-Israeli security coordination regarding Iran, the regional fence-mending with the Islamic Republic has become a source of anxiety, which has occasionally spilled out into the otherwise smooth mind-meld between Washington and Jerusalem over Iran.