In Brief: Stop judicial reform and restart peace talks for Saudi normalisation, says US

Crown prince Mohamad bin Salman > US State Department, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The Biden administration reportedly wants the Israeli government to halt its judicial reforms and restart peace talks with the Palestinian Authority in order for the US to make progress with brokering normalisation between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

The past week has seen a number of reports that Jerusalem and Riyadh are in the midst of negotiations to establish direct flights between the two countries, seen as a stepping stone to broader diplomatic normalisation.

Israel’s Channel 12 reported that both Washington and Riyadh had set out their demands for such an agreement moving forward, with both pressuring Israel into restarting diplomatic talks with the Palestinians that will lead to a “separation”.

The US is also demanding that prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu halt his government’s controversial judicial overhaul plan.

The Saudis also reportedly demanded that the White House unfreeze some Trump-era weapons deals that were frozen when Joe Biden took office, and are also seeking a defence treaty with the US and approval for a civilian nuclear program.

The Saudis are also reportedly pressuring Israel to hand certain powers in the West Bank and security authority at holy sites in Jerusalem’s Old City over to the Palestinian Authority: far-reaching steps that are highly unlikely to be approved by Israel’s right-wing government.

In 2020, Israel made significant regional progress via the Abraham Accords, which saw it establish diplomatic relations with four Arab countries – the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan – for the first time.