Saudi Arabia Seeks Strategic Defense Pact with the US Ahead of 2024 Presidential Election
Saudi Arabia is reportedly open to accepting a non-binding commitment from Israel regarding the creation of a Palestinian state as part of its strategy to secure a defense pact with the United States ahead of the 2024 presidential election.
The kingdom had been moving towards normalizing relations with Israel through US-led diplomacy, but these efforts were put on hold after the October attacks by Hamas on Israel and the subsequent counter-offensive, which fueled tensions in the Arab world.
Saudi Arabia’s Bid for a Defense
Despite the setback, Saudi Arabia is increasingly prioritizing its security to counter threats from regional rival Iran. This move is essential for the kingdom’s larger plan to transform its economy and attract significant foreign investment, according to two regional sources.
Riyadh’s diplomatic initiatives coincide with escalating concerns about Iran’s military influence, with its proxies spread across Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, and Gaza.
To facilitate discussions on recognizing Israel and revive the US defense pact, Saudi officials have communicated to their US counterparts that they would not insist on concrete steps from Israel toward creating a Palestinian state.
Instead, they are willing to accept a political commitment to a two-state solution, as revealed by two senior regional sources.
Saudi-Israel Diplomatic Pause Amidst Middle East Tensions
The feasibility of such a monumental regional deal, initially seen as a challenging prospect, faces several political and diplomatic obstacles. The ongoing uncertainty surrounding the Gaza conflict adds to the complexity of negotiations.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu poses a significant hurdle to these plans, as he has unequivocally rejected any aspirations for a Palestinian state, aligning with US and Arab expectations post the Gaza war.
If successful, a potential pact offering US military protection to the world’s largest oil exporter in exchange for normalization with Israel could reshape the Middle East.
This move would bring together two historical adversaries, solidifying Riyadh’s alliance with Washington amid China’s increasing influence in the region.
A normalization deal would also strengthen Israel’s defenses against Iran and provide a diplomatic win for US President Joe Biden ahead of the November 5 presidential election.