Saudi Arabia wants its defence pact with Washington sealed before the US presidential elections and is willing to soften its stand on Palestine in return, media reports say.
Riyadh will not insist that Israel take concrete steps to create a Palestinian state and would instead accept a political commitment, two senior regional sources told Reuters. It is, however, not clear what a political commitment to creating a Palestine state would involve.
Saudi Arabia was set to normalise relations with Israel and recognise the country for the first time last year, but the plan was shelved due to the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict amid a severe backlash from other Arab countries in the region on the Israeli offensive in Gaza, which continues for the fourth month.
Over the past few years, Riyadh has been trying to transform its economy and attract foreign investments in a bid to reduce its dependence on oil. It intends to secure its security needs amid rising threats from Iran, the news report said.
A possible pact in the region would be a win-win situation for all parties. The US would unite two-long term foes—Israel and Saudi Arabia, amid China making inroads in the region. Israel and Saudi Arabia, in turn, would reshape the politics in the region and US President Joe Biden would have a major diplomatic victory to flaunt ahead of the presidential elections later this year.
Riyadh believes that it is the best opportunity it has for sealing the deal. With Joe Biden keen on a deal and chances of it being easily passed through the Senate, it may well be the opportunity to get an agreement through the Congress.
Media reports say that the Saudis have privately urged the US to urge Israel to stop the ongoing offensive in Gaza. This would enable Riyadh to normalise relations and also fund Gaza’s reconstruction.