The White House on Monday noted that normalization of ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia would be a focus of US President Joe Biden’s upcoming trip to the Middle East, but that would be a “long process.”
US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said ahead of Biden’s visit to Israel and the West Bank, “With respect to Israel and Saudi Arabia, I’m not going to get ahead of very intensive work that will be done in the course of this trip. Normalization of any kind would be a long process. Looking for progress and momentum in that direction is certainly something we’re focused on as we head off to the Middle East.”
Biden will become the first US president to fly from Israel directly to Saudi Arabia. In a Washington Post op-ed Saturday, Biden described the flight as a “small symbol” of the warming ties between Israel and the Arab world and “steps toward normalization.”
Meanwhile, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Idan Roll said Monday that normalization with Riyadh would happen in stages, unlike the surprise announcement for the Abraham Accords that saw Israel forge ties with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in 2020. Roll expressed hope that Biden’s trip will come with some progress, though.