President Biden Has a Chance to Foster Peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia

June 15 2022

On Tuesday, the White House announced that the president is planning a visit to the Middle East, which will include stops in both Israel and Saudi Arabia. While in Riyadh, President Biden will no doubt endeavor to repair a historic relationship that his administration has thus far done much to undermine. One of the key sticking points involves the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, which the kingdom—like Israel—opposes and the U.S. still seeks to revive. Mark Dubowitz and Daniel B. Shapiro suggest ways to bring diplomatic progress nonetheless:

The bridge to overcome this disagreement is to achieve understandings on what follows the nuclear talks, whether they collapse or result in a renewed nuclear deal. In either case, Iran’s implacable hostility can be expected to fuel escalation. Recognizing the severe threat Iran and its proxies will continue to pose to U.S. forces and partners necessitates clear U.S. commitments, underscored by its ongoing presence in the region: to assist in development of integrated regional air defenses; . . . to facilitate interdictions of weapons shipments to proxies; to rally international condemnation of the regime’s interference in its neighbors’ affairs and abuse of its own people; and to prepare military deterrence and defense options, alone or with others, to ensure Iran never acquires a nuclear weapon.

For Biden, the core strategic interest that must be addressed is ensuring that Saudi Arabia continues to orient its policies toward the United States, rather than hedge its bets by leaning toward Russia and China.

Beyond the confines of this visit, it’s in the broader interests of both countries for Saudi Arabia eventually to join the Abraham Accords. This is a priority that Biden should advance, and a stabilized bilateral relationship should enable him to do so in the remaining years of his first term. Growing Israeli-Saudi military and intelligence cooperation suggests the promise of greater commercial, technological, and people-to-people cooperation, and eventual full diplomatic relations. Cementing a coalition of moderate states in the region, advancing Saudi modernization, development, and economic-diversification goals, and—handled sensitively—offering the Palestinians a path to participate in normalization that improves, rather than impedes, prospects for an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement are all mutual goals that normalization can advance.

Read more at Politico

More about: Iran, Israel-Arab relations, Joseph Biden, Middle East, Saudi Arabia

The U.S. Is Trying to Seduce Israel into Accepting a Bad Deal with Iran. Israel Should Say No

Last week, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released its quarterly report on the Iranian nuclear program. According to an analysis by the Institute for Science and International Security, the Islamic Republic can now produce enough weapons-grade uranium to manufacture “five nuclear weapons in one month, seven in two months, and a total of eight in three months.” The IAEA also has reason to believe that Tehran has further nuclear capabilities that it has successfully hidden from inspectors. David M. Weinberg is concerned about Washington’s response:

Believe it or not, the Biden administration apparently is once again offering the mullahs of Tehran a sweetheart deal: the release of $10 billion or more in frozen Iranian assets and clemency for Iran’s near-breakout nuclear advances of recent years, in exchange for Iranian release of American hostages and warmed-over pious Iranian pledges to freeze the Shiite atomic-bomb program.

This month, intelligence photos showed Iran again digging tunnels at its Natanz nuclear site—supposedly deep enough to withstand an American or Israeli military strike. This tells us that Iran has something to hide, a clear sign that it has not given up on its quest for a nuclear bomb.

Meanwhile, Antony Blinken today completes a three-day visit to Saudi Arabia, where he is reportedly pressing the kingdom to enter the Abraham Accords. This is no coincidence, for reasons Weinberg explains:

Washington expects Israeli acquiescence in the emerging U.S. surrender to Iran in exchange for a series of other things important to Israel. These include U.S. backing for Israel against escalated Palestinian assaults expected this fall in UN forums, toning down U.S. criticism regarding settlement and security matters (at a time when the IDF is going to have to intensify its anti-terrorist operations in Judea and Samaria), an easing of U.S. pressures on Israel in connection with domestic matters (like judicial reform), a warm Washington visit for Prime Minister Netanyahu (which is not just a political concession but is rather critical to Israel’s overall deterrent posture), and most of all, significant American moves towards reconciliation with Saudi Arabia (which is critical to driving a breakthrough in Israeli-Saudi ties).

[But] even an expensive package of U.S. “concessions” to Saudi Arabia will not truly compensate for U.S. capitulation to Iran (something we know from experience will only embolden the hegemonic ambitions of the mullahs). And this capitulation will make it more difficult for the Saudis to embrace Israel publicly.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Antony Blinken, Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Saudi Arabia, U.S.-Israel relationship