MBS and Netanyahu
MBS and NetanyahuYonatan Sindel/Flash90, Reuters

Since his victory in the last elections, designated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been in under-the-radar contact with Riyad, through Washington, with the goal of laying the groundwork for a historic agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia, an agreement which will complete the process which began with the Abraham Accords.

Yedioth Aharonoth commentator Nahum Barnea recently wrote that the stipulations for beginning negotiations are difficult, but the Saudi side is showing interest. "Prince Muhammad Bin Salman (MBS), the acting Saudi ruler, is showing a real willingness to negotiate.

The two nations have moved to direct contact a while ago, and the two are very satisfied with the results," writes Barnea, according to sources in Washington. "The Saudi royal house was involved in the process which brought to the agreements with the UAE. At a certain point, there was even talk of the Saudis joining. The process didn't develop, but it was clear to all that if Saudi Arabia would not give the Emiratis the green light, there wouldn't have been an agreement.

Two and a quarter years have passed since the signing and the Saudis know that the countries that signed were not damaged. The experiment worked: We can move on to the next step."

Barnea reports that Netanyahu is committing not to annex Judea and Samaria, in opposition to the opinion of designated Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich. "Netanyahu is offering a normalization deal that does not include an Israeli commitment to proceed in the Palestinian issue. He commits to refrain from annexing territories for the extent of his term as prime minister and beyond it. A similar commitment to that which he made to the Americans while working on the Abraham Accords."

The acting Saudi ruler, MBS, on his part, is presenting impossible demands. Barnea writes that "The first demand is that Israel makes sure to fix the relations between him and the Biden administration and Congress. MBS is one of the most hated foreign leaders in America, together with President Putin of Russia and Xi Jinping of China. He's especially hated in the White House, by the more left-wing Democrats, and the liberal media.

MBS honestly gained the hate: It started with the widespread killing of civilians in the war in Yemen and reached its peak during the Khashoggi affair when the Washington Post journalist was killed and his body butchered by MBS's men. MBS was boycotted in America.

The Saudi crown prince also demands that the supporters of Israel in the US congress remove the prohibition of selling advanced weaponry, including F-35 jets."

Barnea also reports that the Temple Mount is also an issue, "King Abdullah of Jordan has bad memories from Netanyahu's previous term. He also had trouble getting along with Bennett and Lapid, but Bibi is in a different league to him. The king is very sensitive when it comes to Jordan's role on the Temple Mount. If the normalization agreements grant the Saudi's a role on the Temple Mount, this can spell an additional decline in relations with Jordan.

The White House certainly sees the advantages of the Saudi initiative. It will force Netanyahu to run after Biden and his party, including the progressive left. The Saudi Crown Price is ready to avoid the question of the territories, but the Democrats in Washington have their own agenda. The settler lobby on one side, and the administration and the Senate on the other. There's a long road to normalization," concludes Barnea.