The United States and Saudi Arabia are engaged in talks about establishing a security pact between Washington and Riyadh, according to the New York Times.
The report quoted unnamed senior American officials implying that such an agreement could resemble the robust military pacts that the U.S. already has in place with countries like Japan and South Korea.
With diplomacy shifting into high-gear, Israel's UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan told Israel’s Channel 14news: “We are the closest that we have ever been before” to normalizing ties with Saudi Arabia.
“If this happens, it will be a historic change for generations to come that will also isolate the Palestinians,” Erdan added during the televised interview.
The NYT report emerged on Tuesday, one day before U.S. President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are scheduled to meet at a hotel on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.
Despite previous reports that a Saudi-Israeli deal will be contingent upon Israel making concessions to the Palestinian Authority, Erdan said he is not bracing for major announcements on that front.
“I have known the prime minister for almost 30 years,” said the ambassador. “There will be no Israeli acceptance of a Palestinian state. Nobody even believes that this could be on the agenda nowadays, when Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) keeps expressing his antisemitic views, denying the Holocaust, and with the dominance of terror organizations like Hamas at play.”
Biden has acknowledged that the U.S. is working toward normalization between Israel and the Arab world, during his speech at the UN General Assembly on Tuesday. He also tied in the Palestinians to that goal.
“Israel’s greater normalization and economic connection with its neighbors delivering positive and particle impacts, even as we continue to work tirelessly for just and lasting peace, for Israelis and Palestinians, two states for two peoples,” Biden stated.
If the White House wants to move forward with a security treaty with the Saudi Kingdom, it must first get the approval of the Senate and any potential pact will require the support of two-thirds of the upper chamber.
Israeli media reports have indicated that Jerusalem has signaled to Biden's administration that Israel will be in its corner on this issue should the normalization agreement materialize.
Tal Heinrich is a senior correspondent for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS. She is currently based in New York City. Tal also provides reports and analysis for Israeli Hebrew media Channel 14 News.