(JNS) U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said on Tuesday that while work on an Israel-Saudi normalization deal is ongoing, such a deal isn’t imminent. Sullivan has traveled to Riyadh numerous times over the last six months in a bid to broker an agreement.
“There are still ways to travel… these are highly technical issues,” he said on Tuesday, adding that the Biden administration was planning to ask the International Atomic Energy Agency for an advisory opinion on a potential Saudi civilian nuclear program that would include uranium enrichment.
Earlier this month, the White House downplayed claims that the Saudis had agreed to the “broad contours” of a normalization deal with Israel. According to the report, negotiators are already discussing specifics, including American help for a Saudi civilian nuclear program, along with security guarantees and concessions for Palestinians. Washington in return is asking Riyadh to place limits on its burgeoning ties with China, and is likely to request assurances that the Saudis will not allow China to build military bases on their territory.
Israeli National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi said negotiators have not broached specifics with Jerusalem. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed confidence in a recent interview that his government could achieve some form of normalization with Saudi Arabia in the coming months.
“I think that we are about to witness a pivot of history,” Netanyahu told Bloomberg. “First, there is an economic corridor of energy, transport and communications that naturally goes through our geography from Asia through the Arabian Peninsula to Europe,” he said, adding, “We are going to realize that.”