A top Israeli official played down prospects for a U.S.-brokered diplomatic breakthrough with Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, describing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government as “in a fog” on any progress in related talks between Riyadh and Washington.
Deeming the forging of formal Israeli-Saudi ties a U.S. interest, President Joe Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, made a May 6-8 shuttle trip to the two countries.
That followed a New York Times report in March that Riyadh – whose relationship with the Biden administration is strained – was conditioning normalisation with Israel on boosted U.S. defence sales and assent for a Saudi civilian nuclear programme.
Saudi officials have not confirmed this. Sullivan’s Israeli counterpart, Tzachi Hanegbi, appeared to do so on Tuesday, saying in a interview that the Saudis had raised terms with the United States as part of a “triangular” diplomacy.
Yet Hanegbi hedged on how Israel might respond, saying such Saudi requests were, for now, “an American dilemma”.