Despite opposition from many Congress members, US is intending to sell new advanced weapons to Saudi Arabia in exchange for the Kingdom’s consent to normalize ties with Israel.
According to a US lawmaker, the Congress intends to approve the sale of new advanced weapons to Saudi Arabia despite the human rights records of the Kingdom and the fact that Riyadh will use such weapons against Yemen. The reason for this, the lawmakers mentioned, is to get the Kingdom’s agreement to move in the path of normalization with Israel under the Abraham Accords.
The US congressman, who is from the Democratic Party but spoke on condition of anonymity, said this Monday that they and others in the party would stand in opposition to such efforts to arm Saudi Arabia, even in exchange for Riyadh normalizing relations with Israel.
However, he openly acknowledged that such opposition would presumably not be enough to block the decision and Saudi Arabia will most probably receive the weapons.
Since Joe Biden came to power last year, relations between Washington and Riyadh have been at odds, especially during recent months. The areas of conflict range from US discontent with human rights violations in Saudi Arabia, Riyad’s policies regarding the oil production in OPEC+, and the war in Yemen that the Biden administration is opposed of but Saudi Arabia is still continuing it.
Speaking to The Times of Israel, the US lawmaker asserted that the Abraham Accords is a rare issue that receives bipartisan support on Capitol Hill, with caucuses established last year in both houses of Congress in order to advance Israel’s integration in the region. This, he noted, will surpass any other concerns in Washington.
Wessington more eager than ever for Israel-Saudi Arabia normalization
Closing their eyes on Saudi Arabia’s anti-US oil policies and its human rights record, American politicians seems to be more enthusiastic than ever to help Israel and Saudi Arabia normalize ties.
It was last week that just for this purpose, seven lawmakers from the Senate’s Abraham Accords caucus traveled to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Morocco and Israel, and had separate meetings with leaders to discuss how the US could help advance the normalization deals that the three Arab countries signed with Israel back in 2020.
“The US should urge Abraham Accords countries to invest in humanitarian projects for the Palestinians in exchange for F-35s and other technology that they are desperate for that helps them create a regional missile defense [system] against Iran,” said one of the senators, Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand, in an interview with The Times of Israel last Tuesday.
The US has in fact already tested this policy and could convince one Gulf country to normalize relations with Israel; Under the Trump administration, the US agreed to sell the UAE 50 F-35 fighter jets, a move that was crucial for pushing UAE’s normalization agreement with Israel past the finish line.
How important is Washington’s help for normalization?
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared that making peace with Saudi Arabia is one of the highest foreign policy priorities in his government. After a week-long visit to Riyadh in November, Netanyahu is more convinced than ever that such a peace is indeed possible.
The US role in helping the normalization process move forward between Israel and Saudi Arabia is undeniably important as Jerusalem Post acknowledged this in an op-ed published early this January.
Normalization with Saudi Arabia “can’t be achieved without a major assist from President Joe Biden and improvement in US-Saudi relations, just as the US role was vital in the peace agreements between Israel and the UAE, Bahrain, and Morocco under the Trump administration,” the JP noted.