A senior Israeli official said Tuesday that developments in the growing relationship between Israel and Saudi Arabia are expected to be announced during President Biden’s trip to the region, which starts Wednesday, The Times of Israel reported.
Saudi Arabia has been hesitant to normalize relations with Israel as the UAE and Bahrain did in 2020. But Riyadh has signaled an openness to take steps in that direction and has quietly increased military cooperation with Israel.
“It’s a delicate relationship, it’s very fragile, novel in many respects,” the Israeli official told reporters. The official said Israel was operating as if “the steps we are taking now will only be the beginning, the start of the process of normalization between the countries.”
On Monday, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan struck a similar tone, saying any Israeli-Saudi normalization would be a “long process.” But Sullivan said that the US is looking “for progress and momentum in that direction.”
In a recent op-ed published in The Washington Post, Biden said he will be the first president to fly directly from Israel to Saudi Arabia. He called the move “a small symbol of the budding relations and steps toward normalization between Israel and the Arab world.”
Israel views cooperation with Saudi Arabia as vital to its plans to build a regional alliance against Iran and lobbied for Biden to visit the Kingdom and meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Israel’s plans are focused on integrated missile defense systems, and the Israelis are reportedly hoping to get Biden’s approval to sell a new laser system it developed to Arab states.