US Negotiating Saudi-Egypt-Israel Accord
Another potential deal that doesn't address the central issue.
Axios (“Scoop: U.S. negotiating deal among Saudis, Israelis and Egyptians“):
The Biden administration has been quietly mediating among Saudi Arabia, Israel and Egypt on negotiations that, if successful, could be a first step on the road to the normalization of relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel.
It involves finalizing the transfer of two strategic islands in the Red Sea from Egyptian to Saudi sovereignty, five U.S. and Israeli sources told Axios.
Why it matters: If an arrangement is reached, it would be a significant foreign policy achievement for the Biden administration in the Middle East.
The U.S. and Israeli sources said the agreement is not complete and the sensitive negotiations are ongoing, according to the U.S. and Israeli sources who are knowledgeable about the negotiations but who are not at liberty to publicly discuss them. The White House wants an agreement to be reached before President Biden’s upcoming trip to the Middle East at the end of June, which could include a stop in Saudi Arabia, according to the sources.
The Tiran and Sanafir islands control the Straits of Tiran — a strategic sea passage to the ports of Aqaba in Jordan and Eilat in Israel. Saudi and Egyptian officials say Saudi Arabia gave Egypt control of the islands in 1950. They were later demilitarized as part of the 1979 Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty.
The White House and the Israeli prime minister’s office declined to comment. The embassies of Saudi Arabia and Egypt did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The big picture: According to the sources, the Biden administration believes finalizing an arrangement could build trust between the parties and create an opening to warm relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia, which do not have official diplomatic relations.
It would be the most significant U.S. foreign policy achievement in the Middle East since the Abraham Accords, which were brokered by the Trump administration and led to normalization agreements between Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco.
Saudi Arabia supported the Abraham Accords but made it clear at the time they wouldn’t normalize relations with Israel unless there was serious progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
Successful negotiations could also lower tensions between the Biden administration and Saudi Arabia.
Biden once vowed to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah” and relations have been strained over a number of issues, including the kingdom’s human rights record and the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. U.S. intelligence says Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is responsible — an allegation Saudi Arabia denies.
All of these deals, going back to the historic Camp David Accords negotiated by President Jimmy Carter in 1979, have been successful save those negotiated with the Palestinians themselves. Those have all fallen apart, owing to the inability of leadership to control extremist factions.
Ultimately, lasting peace in the region is impossible without solving the Palestinian problem. And it gets less solvable with each passing year.
As to the Saudis, it’s long past time to stop pretending they’re allies whose interests are aligned with ours. So long as they’re ruled by a thug regime held hostage by religious extremists, that can never be the case.