Dr Mike Evans

Israeli leaders set to talk Iran, Saudi Arabia with US national security advisor

Senior Israeli officials are scheduled to journey to Washington next week as the Biden administration seeks to strengthen collaboration regarding the Iranian nuclear deal and the normalization process with Saudi Arabia.

According to Axios, which cites four Israeli and U.S. officials, Ron Dermer, the Israeli Minister for Strategic Affairs, and national security advisor Tzachi Hanegbi are anticipated to meet with White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan and other senior officials.

This high-profile visit occurs amidst some strain in Israel’s relations with Washington. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s reliance on far-right lawmakers in his government has placed the United States in an uncomfortable position.

In March, US President Joe Biden made an unusual public intervention in Israel’s domestic politics by urging a compromise on Netanyahu’s contentious plans to revamp the country’s judiciary. The proposed judicial law prompted extensive protests in Israel and drew criticism from American Jews, including lawmakers within Biden’s party.

Nevertheless, Israel remains the United States’ closest ally in the Middle East, receiving approximately $3.8 billion in annual military aid from Washington. Earlier this month, the U.S. also reportedly requested Israel’s participation in “unprecedented” joint military planning against Iran.

On Tuesday, General Herzi Halevi, the chief of staff for the Israeli military, stated that Iran’s uranium enrichment had reached an unprecedented level of advancement. Amidst escalating tensions, Israel is expected to receive favorable news regarding the Biden administration’s intentions to resume efforts in encouraging Saudi Arabia to normalize relations.

President Joe Biden emphasized closer relations between the two allies during his visit to Saudi Arabia in July 2022. As part of this, he unveiled a plan to transfer two Red Sea islands from Egypt to Saudi Arabia. Due to security agreements from the Cold War era, Israel’s approval was required for the agreement, which subsequently led to Riyadh agreeing to open its airspace for Israeli flights.

However, these efforts have been overshadowed by Saudi Arabia’s recent decision to restore ties with Iran, Israel’s primary rival. The agreement, brokered by China, excluded the involvement of Washington and raised concerns in Israel about potential regional isolation.