According to a report from The Times of Israel, Israeli officials have cautioned their counterparts in the Biden administration against heavily criticizing Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The Israeli concern is that if the US puts too much pressure on the Arab nations, they will become more friendly with Tehran.
An Israeli source told the Times that while Israel is mainly concerned with the Arab nations forming friendly ties with Iran, they also fear US pressure could make them more reliant on Russia and China.
While Israel has had diplomatic ties with Egypt for decades and doesn’t have formal relations with Saudi Arabia, a major aspect of the recent US push for normalization between Israel and Arab states was to isolate Iran. Trump administration officials frequently cited Iran as a reason to broker the Abraham Accords, which normalized ties between Israel and several countries, including the UAE and Bahrain.
Earlier this week, Israel’s public broadcaster Kan reported that Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett suggested to President Biden the idea of forming a NATO-style alliance in the Middle East against Iran. Bennett’s proposed alliance would include Israel, Jordan, and the Gulf Arab states.
The Times report said the matter of Saudi Arabia and Egypt was not discussed during last week’s Biden-Bennett meeting, likely because Biden hasn’t really put any pressure on the Arab nations. The source told the Times that Despite Biden’s rhetoric, he has “thus far avoided upending US relations” with Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
As a candidate, President Biden vowed to press Riyadh and Cairo on human rights. In February, Biden said he was ending support for Saudi Arabia’s “offensive” operations in Yemen, but months later, it was revealed the US was still servicing Saudi warplanes, and the war is still raging. For Egypt, Biden has made no changes to the amount of military aid the US provides Cairo.