Saudi Arabia is reportedly willing to accept a political commitment from Israel to create a Palestinian state rather than a binding agreement to normalize relations, according to Reuters.
Riyadh is seeking a defense pact with the United States, and this approach is seen as a way to move forward after months of diplomatic attempts to normalize relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel were halted due to mounting Arab anger over the war in Gaza. The Saudi government is eager to enhance its security and counter threats from Iran while advancing its economic transformation plan.
Saudi officials have conveyed to the US that they would accept a political commitment to a two-state solution, providing some flexibility in negotiations. A defense pact between Saudi Arabia and the US could reshape the Middle East by bringing the most influential Arab state closer to Israel, and potentially bolstering Israel's defense against Iran. However, achieving such an agreement faces political and diplomatic challenges.
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has resisted Palestinian statehood, complicating negotiations. Saudi officials have urged the US to press Israel to end the Gaza conflict and commit to a "political horizon" for a Palestinian state. The US sees Riyadh's strong desire for a defense pact as an opportunity for flexibility on Israel's commitment to Palestinian statehood.
The Biden administration is keen on reaching an agreement, and Riyadh is eager to secure a deal while the Democrats are in power. Still, obstacles remain, including Netanyahu's position on Palestinian statehood. The clock is ticking for achieving this mega-deal, as US officials hope that tying defense guarantees to normalization could gain congressional support, but timing is crucial, with the upcoming US presidential election adding uncertainty to the situation.