Foreign Policy: Netanyahu and Mohammed bin Salman meet to prepare for confronting the Biden administration


With the end of the Trump era, both “Israel” and the Arab Gulf states are concerned about what to expect from the Biden administration and its return to the outlines of Obama’s policy.

  • Pompeo Holds Tripartite Summit with Netanyahu and Bahraini Foreign Minister in Occupied Palestine (AFP)

Jonathan Verziger, a non-resident scholar with the Atlantic Council residing in occupied Jerusalem, wrote an article in a magazine Foreign Policy In it, he said that the visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the Saudi city of Neom to meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, on Sunday, raises the possibility of Saudi Arabia joining the new alliance of the Arab Gulf states with “Israel”.

He added: It seems that the meeting also shows how former enemies rely on each other to dispel the bad winds that are already blowing in their direction from the next administration of US President-elect Joe Biden. As the biggest beneficiaries of US President Donald Trump’s foreign policy, Netanyahu and Mohammed bin Salman are now seeking to insulate themselves from indications that the Biden administration will soon dismiss them as rogue players.

So Netanyahu canceled a cabinet meeting on Sunday and, according to several accounts, infiltrated a private business jet on a one-hour flight across the Red Sea to the western coast of Saudi Arabia. In the desert city of Neom, which is still under construction as a $ 500 billion city for technological innovation, the Israeli leader spent up to five hours with the Saudi crown prince, joined by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Israeli Mossad Director Yossi Cohen.

The writer said that what the four men discussed revolved around speculation, as some believed that the meeting was about an imminent attack on Iran before Biden got a chance to return to the 2015 nuclear deal, while others were hoping that Saudi Arabia would follow the example of the UAE and Bahrain in a formal normalization of relations with. Israel”.

On January 20, 2021, Washington will likely pursue a different Middle East policy. Biden spoke openly about reassessing the US-Saudi relationship in light of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents in Istanbul in 2018. Netanyahu’s vocal opposition to negotiations with Iran, especially his 2015 speech to a joint session of the US Congress, is still remembered as a rude nudge for the president. Former Barack Obama when Biden was Vice President.

Joshua Teitelbaum, a professor of political science at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University who writes a book on the history of the Saudi military, said the meeting in NEOM was aimed at “resolving something” before Trump left office and wanted to “send a signal to the Biden administration.” The message, he said, is that “these two major allies in the region are meeting.” However, it appears the message was not directed at the public: After news of Netanyahu’s trip Sunday was leaked to Israeli media on Monday and confirmed by Israeli and Saudi officials, Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan officially denied this.

As for Netanyahu, who on Monday refused to confirm or deny the meeting, he created a technical framework by dropping hints about secret meetings with Arab leaders without confirming their occurrence. Reports of meetings between Netanyahu and Mohammed bin Salman on board the Red Sea yachts appeared in neighboring Jordan, and in various European cities. The only time Netanyahu met publicly with any Gulf ruler was in 2018, when he visited the late Sultan Qaboos in Muscat, Oman, who died in January.

The magazine said that all these hints mask the deep but informal diplomatic relations that Netanyahu has established with a wide range of Arab countries, even as he was publicly defamed over his hardline policy toward the Palestinians and his plans to annex nearly 30 percent of the West Bank. The reward came in September, when he sat next to Trump on the southern lawn of the White House and signed “the Ibrahim Agreements” with the foreign ministers of the UAE and Bahrain, opening the way toward diplomatic relations with the Gulf states, along with promised cooperation in business, defense, intelligence, aviation, tourism, and medical research. And reconciliation between Muslims and Jews. The agreements culminated in a $ 23 billion arms deal in which Israel dropped its long-standing objections to the US sale of F-35 fighter jets to the UAE.

The writer believed that what is lacking in rapprochement with “Israel” is the participation of Saudi Arabia, the largest and richest member of the Gulf Cooperation Council. It was Trump’s first foreign trip as president to Saudi Arabia, which was followed by a direct flight from Riyadh to Tel Aviv. Since the announcement of the Israeli-Emirati deal from the Oval Office last August, Trump and his aides have said they expect the Saudis to ascend the normalization board as well. Up to this point, the Saudis said that any formal agreement with “Israel” must be based on the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, originally proposed by the Saudis, which calls for “Israel” to accept a Palestinian state and withdraw from the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza.

The writer concluded by saying that, with the end of the Trump era, both “Israel” and the Arab Gulf states are concerned about what can be expected from the new administration and preparing themselves to return to the outlines of the familiar policy pursued by Obama, including defusing the conflict with Iran and sympathizing with the Palestinians and affirming. On human rights. Ibtisam Al Ketbi, head of the Emirates Policy Center in Abu Dhabi, told the magazine that it is clear that Netanyahu and Mohammed bin Salman share some deep concerns before Trump’s departure, and they want to make sure that what Biden does will not affect their common interests.

Adapted translation: Al-Mayadeen Net


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