Negotiations with Saudi Arabia about a possible mega-deal were the main topic of the first meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu since he was re-elected to the premiership in November last year.
The “good and friendly” conversation between the two leaders lasted longer than initially planned, during which Biden invited Netanyahu to an additional meeting at the White House before the end of the year.
“Under your leadership, Mr. President, we can forge a historic peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia. And I think such a peace would go a long way, first, to advance the end of the Arab-Israeli conflict… and advance a genuine peace between Israel and the Palestinians,” Netanyahu told Biden at the start of the meeting.
Shortly after the meeting, Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told Fox News, “Every day we get closer” to a historic peace and normalization deal with Israel.
The White House readout of the meeting did not include an explicit reference to the negotiations with Saudi Arabia, only noting that the leaders “consulted on progress toward establishing a more … peaceful Middle East region, including through efforts to deepen and expand normalization with countries in the region.”
The statement by the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office, on the other hand, noted: “The meeting between the two leaders mostly dealt with ways to establish a historic peace agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia.”
The bulk of the discussions were indeed focused on the deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia, a senior Israeli official told the Israeli reporters on the scene, according to The Jerusalem Post.
Both leaders praised the recently-announced economic corridor that will connect India and Europe through the Middle East. They reportedly also discussed issues surrounding Iran, with Netanyahu praising Biden for U.S. efforts to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
Before the doors were closed to the press, Netanyahu assured Biden of his continued commitment to democracy in a nod to recent criticism of the Israeli government's judicial reform plans.
“We will continue to uphold the values that both our proud democracies cherish,” Netanyahu stressed.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.