Will Saudis join accords? 'More when than if'

US Assistant Secretary for Political-Military Affairs refrains from disclosing details re Saudis, but says 'more will join accords'.

Yoni Kempinski ,

Clarke Cooper
Clarke Cooper
Arutz Sheva

Arutz Sheva heard from U.S. Assistant Secretary for Political-Military Affairs Clarke Cooper who discussed the accelerated diplomatic contacts between Israel and Saudi Arabia that have reportedly involved the highest levels in recent days.

Cooper says: "My stop in Israel is part of a multinational visit, as part of the Abraham Accords. There's much in those Accords, of course in terms of normalization with Israel, and we hope to see more.

"My time in Israel is spent in dialogue with the defense establishment and the Foreign Ministry. The commitment to Israel's qualitative military edge is ironclad, and not dependent on which administration is in power.

"The United States' positions are strategic and American; they cross administrations, in which I have served many. The point is, we talk about the alliance that's transcendent. The commitment to Israel doesn't change."

Regarding reports of Netanyahu meetings with Saudi officials that were denied by the Saudis, Cooper says: "The one thing I can say is that the intent and desire of the Abraham Accords is to be a dynamic process with more countries recognizing Israel's sovereignty."

He says "the interest in pursuing relations with Israel is widespread. There is a welcoming response."

Cooper says the Saudis want many of the benefits of joining the normalization accords and assesses that as many increasingly look to their future and see that there's more that's attractive than there is not, Arab states will calculate that they do not want to be left out.

Are you trying to "clean house" before the change of power?

"There are elements that you don't want to leave dangling loose, and there are things that are that way in depth. It seems we're on schedule. It's common practice to do housekeeping. There are steps to complete by December 21st. There are things that will be carried over into the next administration."

But are the accords a result of a specific policy?

"I would be stunned if there will be a retreat by the next administration. It's about recognizing Israel; that's something that hasn't changed."

Cooper emphasized that the Abraham Accords are rooted in bipartisan policy towards Israel.

"In terms of the next coming years, you'll see more cooperation between the U.S., Israel, and the signatories; there will be more responsibilities.

"This will be characterized by intelligence sharing and enhanced ability to cooperate; ability to face enemies together is very important."

Cooper says it is a process that will continue, and that affects the generation, explaining that what is different now than with historic agreements, is that in this case there is much that is relevant to the public, and not just security and government realms.

"Other states are weighing more when than if," he says. "When to be a signatory to the Accords, not whether to be."

Cooper mentioned that there are "sweeping reforms" and when discussing "Vision 2030, it most probably will include the Abraham Accords."