Saudi Arabia's MbS wants to normalise ties with Israel after Biden takes office: report

Saudi Arabia's MbS wants to normalise ties with Israel after Biden takes office: report
The kingdom's crown prince reportedly hopes the move will help to mend ties with the US.
2 min read
28 November, 2020
Bin Salman reportedly met with Israel's Netanyahu earlier this week [Getty]
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman plans to normalise ties with Israel after President-elect Joe Biden takes office in the White House, a new report claims.

Riyadh is among a number of Arab states rumoured to have been mulling an agreement with Israel in recent years, but the crown prince and de-facto ruler appears to have been hestitant to follow suit with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain this year.

Bin Salman, widely known as MbS, nixed plans to normalise ties with Israel after Biden was declared the winner of the November 3 US election, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Discussions remain ongoing, however, with MbS and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meeting earlier this week in Saudi Arabia. The much-reported meeting has not been officially acknowledged by either country.

No agreements were made during the meeting, which took place in the northwestern city of Neom and involved Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the head of Israel's Mossad intelligence agency, the WSJ reported.

Instead, the Saudi crown prince hopes to utilise the promise of a normalisation deal with Israel to rebuild ties with the incoming Democratic administration.

A historic US ally, Riyadh has suffered a damaged reputation in Washington since the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

Although President Donald Trump stood by MbS, both Republicans and Democrats joined popular calls for sanctions and a halt to arms exports over the Khashoggi killing and the leading Saudi role in the brutal war in Yemen.

The incoming Biden-Harris administration is expected to take Riyadh's human rights violations more seriously and pursue greater accountability on issues such as the detention of rights activists.

MbS is currently reluctant to reach a normalisation deal with Israel, Saudi advisors told the WSJ, but hopes that normalising ties will help mend relations with the Biden administration.

The crown prince's reluctance partly spans from the widespread opposition to normalisation within the Arab world but also from his father King Salman's support for a boycott of Israel, according to the WSJ.

Speaking to Reuters last week, Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud said Riyadh had "supported normalization with Israel for a long time, but one very important thing must happen first: a permanent and full peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians".

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