Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman pulled back from a normalization deal with Israel largely because of the US election result, Saudi advisors and US officials told The Wall Street Journal.
Saudi aides said the prince, eager to build ties with the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden, was reluctant to take the step now, when he could use a deal later to help cement relations with the new American leader.
Other factors played a role in Prince Mohammed’s decision, the officials told The Wall Street Journal. The crown prince and his father, 84-year-old King Salman, are still divided over how to address the issue of Palestinian Arabs who are seeking their own state. Saudi royal advisers said he was aware of his son’s talks with Israel but that his poor health prevented him from grasping the full extent of the discussions.
“Saudi Arabia is trying to figure out how best to use this to repair its image in Washington and generate goodwill with Biden and Congress,” one of the US officials said.
The report follows Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s secret visit to Saudi Arabia this past week, where he reportedly met the Saudi Crown Prince.
An unnamed senior Saudi official told The Wall Street Journal after the meeting that Netanyahu and the Saudi Crown Prince discussed the possibility of normalizing relations between their two countries but did not reach a substantial agreement.
Saudi officials have repeatedly stressed that while the country backs full normalization with Israel, but a peace deal with the Palestinian Authority that results in a Palestinian state must come first.