Blinken meets Saudi Crown Prince
Blinken meets Saudi Crown PrinceReuters

A senior US official said on Tuesday that a breakthrough diplomatic deal between Washington and Riyadh is “pretty much there” but a broader pact involving Israel hinges on “a credible path” towards the creation of a Palestinian state, The Financial Times reported.

The US has made significant progress in talks with the kingdom over American help on defense and a civilian nuclear program, the US official said, and the countries have a “near final set” of bilateral agreements in place.

The discussions are part of US efforts to secure a broader deal that would include Saudi Arabia and Israel normalizing their diplomatic relations, but depends on Israel’s willingness to grant concessions to Palestinian Arabs.

“We now have a near final set of arrangements, which would be the bilateral elements of this deal, and we really believe the Saudi deal is pretty much there,” the senior official said on Tuesday, according to The Financial Times.

“But there are elements of it, including a credible pathway for the Palestinians and also some other elements, that would still have to be completed,” the official said. “The crisis needs to recede to open up space for this.”

Earlier this week, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan met in Israel with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. That meeting followed a meeting between Sullivan and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The White House, in a readout following the meeting with Netanyahu, noted that Sullivan had “held constructive meetings with the Crown Prince and Prime Minster of Saudi Arabia Mohamed bin Salman focused on a comprehensive vision for an integrated Middle East region. Mr. Sullivan briefed Prime Minister Netanyahu and his team on these meetings and the potential that may now be available for Israel, as well as the Palestinian people.”

Saudi Arabia and Israel appeared to be on track towards normalization before Hamas’ October 7 attack against Israel and the war in Gaza which followed.

Shortly after the start of the war in Gaza, sources told Reuters that Saudi Arabia is putting the US-backed plans to normalize ties with Israel on ice.

Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister later indicated that normalization with Israel requires both an end to the fighting in the Gaza Strip as well as the establishment of a Palestinian state, which Saudi officials have long insisted is a condition for normalization with Israel.

Recent reports said that the Biden administration and Saudi Arabia are finalizing an agreement for US security guarantees and civilian nuclear assistance.

Sullivan, however,made clear that the Biden administration would not sign a defense agreement with Saudi Arabia if the kingdom and Israel did not agree to normalize relations.