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Report: Top US official broached normalization with Israel in meeting with Saudi crown prince

While not immediately accepted, the conversation signals a possible shift in U.S.-Saudi relations

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (Photo: Facebook), U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan (Photo: Twitter)

The Biden administration took time warming to the Abraham Accords, but now – according to a report in Axios – it seems White House officials are taking initiative in furthering the historic normalization deals that were brokered by the former president.

U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan apparently raised the idea in a meeting with Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) last month.

When the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed onto the Abraham Accords in September 2020, Saudi Arabia reportedly gave its approval to the agreement. But the U.S., Israel and many in the region were eagerly awaiting to see whether the Saudis themselves would join, and with their agreement, create a vast geographic and geopolitical alliance in the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia has not officially signed on but it has allowed Israel to use its airspace for commercial flights to the UAE and Bahrain, something that it previously did not.

The meeting in question between Sullivan and MBS took place on Sept. 27 in Neom, a high-tech metropolis near the Strait of Tiran, close to the Jordanian border and not far from the borders of Egypt and Israel.

Up until now, the new administration had been slow to openly support and advance the Abraham Accords. But recently, officials have begun to host events related to the agreements and speak publicly in favor of developing them further.

This report comes somewhat as a surprise since the Biden administration had initially distanced itself from the kingdom over its human rights record and the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. This was opposite to former President Donald Trump’s approach. Trump prioritized the Saudis, visiting the Kingdom on his first official state trip even before heading to Israel.

If the Axios report is correct, this signals a shift going on in Washington.

Axios reported last week that Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal Bin Farhan met Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Apparently senior Biden administration officials have been “‘quietly’ engaging several Arab and Muslim countries that might be open to normalization with Israel,” according to the report.

Blinken hosted the administration’s most high-profile event at the time surrounding the historic normalization agreements in September – a one-year anniversary celebration of the Abraham Accords via video conference with representatives from Israel, the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco.

“This administration will continue to build on the successful efforts of the last administration to keep normalization marching forward,” Blinken said at the time.

Nicole Jansezian is the news editor for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and senior correspondent for ALL ISRAEL NEWS

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