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Authored by Kyle Anzalone via The Libertarian Institute,

The White House is prepared to roll out a plan that will make Saudi Arabia a Japan-style ally in exchange for new official ties between Riyadh and Tel Aviv. While the Biden administration has invested substantial effort to get the deal inked, it is likely dead on arrival because Saudi Arabia refuses to normalize with Israel unless Tel Aviv agrees to the creation of a Palestinian state. 

According to American, Israeli, and Saudi officials speaking with the Wall Street Journal, Washington is prepared to sign an agreement to defend Saudi Arabia if Riyadh establishes regular ties with Tel Aviv. However, it would not be a ‘peace agreement,’ as the two countries are not at war. 

Several hurdles must be cleared before the deal can be finalized, and it is unlikely that will happen. While Biden is seeking to make Saudi Arabia a treaty ally, the move would require backing from two-thirds of the Senate. Additionally, the deal would require Tel Aviv to end the onslaught in Gaza and take permanent steps toward a Palestinian state. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly refused to do either. 

Despite the obvious obstacles to the agreement, the White House has pressed forward with negotiations. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan explained last month that the administration did not want to “miss a historic opportunity to achieve the vision of a secure Israel, flanked by strong regional partners, presenting a powerful front to deter aggression and uphold regional stability.” He added, “We are pursuing this vision every day.”

If the pact went through, it would make Riyadh Washington’s only treaty ally in the Arab world, a status that even Tel Aviv does not have. The deal would also give the US access to Saudi airspace. The treaty is also part of negotiations toward a larger deal that would see the US transfer nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia.  

For President Biden, the deal could be politically problematic. As a candidate, Biden promised that he would treat Saudi Arabia as a “pariah state“ for the regime-ordered murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, yet in office he has been far less critical of the repressive monarchy. 

To add to the potential domestic pushback to the agreement, there are widespread protests in the US against Biden’s support for Israel and its war on Gaza, which has now entered its eighth month.

As the treaty is a bribe to Riyadh to accept official relations with Tel Aviv, Americans may object to becoming an ally with Saudi Arabia for the sake of Israel’s regional interests. 

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