Saudis make 4 demands of US for peace with Israel; 1 demand is shockingly missing

A US official said the process of assessing the Saudis’ demands is expected to take several months.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The Biden administration is seriously considering four policy changes Saudi Arabia is demanding of the U.S. in order to normalize relations with Israel, Israel Hayom reported Sunday.

The four issues, some of which were first revealed last month in an article in the Wall Street Journal, are: formalizing a defense alliance between Riyadh and Washington, helping the Saudis develop nuclear power for civilian purposes, increasing bilateral trade, and putting a stop to the heavy criticism the Gulf state has absorbed from the Biden administration since its government was accused by American officials of being behind the assassination of a fierce critic of the regime, Jamal Kashoggi, in Turkey in 2018.

An American official told the Hebrew daily that the process of assessing the demands is expected to take several months.

Israel’s chief concern may be the issue of helping Saudi Arabia obtain nuclear power, even if it is not for offensive purposes, considering that this is how Tehran’s nuclear program got started. As the leading Sunni Muslim country, Saudi Arabia has said that if its Shiite Iranian foe produces a nuclear bomb, it would go nuclear as well.

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Jerusalem is also keeping in mind that Riyadh and Tehran reestablished diplomatic ties last month under Chinese mediation, a move whose consequences for Israel are considered negative.

The White House’s main worry may be the upgrade in its military ties, after President Biden had come into office saying that the countries’ relationship needs a reset due to Riyadh’s human-rights record, with the Kashoggi affair topping the list of Saudi offenses in this area.

This issue has yet to be smoothed out, and the Democrats’ progressive wing would undoubtedly be extremely critical of this kind of turn-around. Biden knows he will need their support when he runs for a second term in office next year.

Perhaps surprisingly, considering its constant public support of the Palestinian cause, progress in any kind of peace process in Israel was not among the demands, which were outlined in a letter Riyadh sent to Washington through Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who visited the Saudi capital two weeks ago and then came to Jerusalem before flying back to the U.S.

After meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Graham said that he had told Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, the country’s de fact ruler, that “the best time to upgrade our relationship is now, that President Biden is very interested in normalizing relationships with Saudi Arabia and in turn, Saudi Arabia recognizing the one and only Jewish state.”

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The Republican party would work with its colleagues across the aisle to get a deal done, he added, but he believes that time is of the essence.

“I would say that that this opportunity is not unlimited and that if we do not do it in 2023 or early 2024 the window may close,” he said.

Almost as soon as Netanyahu regained his office late last year, he announced the expansion of the Abraham Accords to include Saudi Arabia as one of his most important foreign policy goals.

“If we make peace with Saudi Arabia,” he told CNN in February, it would “effectively bring the Arab-Israeli conflict to an end.”