Saudis said looking at ‘Plan B’ defense pact with US without Israel normalization

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken attends a Joint Ministerial Meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)-US Strategic Partnership discussing the humanitarian situation in Gaza, at the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Secretariat in Riyadh on April 29, 2024. (Evelyn Hockstein/Pool/AFP)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken attends a Joint Ministerial Meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)-US Strategic Partnership discussing the humanitarian situation in Gaza, at the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Secretariat in Riyadh on April 29, 2024. (Evelyn Hockstein/Pool/AFP)

Saudi Arabia is pushing the US to sign a limited defense pact with Riyadh instead of the wide-ranging deal that includes normalization with Israel that is currently on the table, the UK’s Guardian newspaper reports.

The unsourced report says the Saudis fear that the mega normalization deal that includes Washington giving Riyadh agreements on bilateral defense and security commitments, as well as nuclear cooperation, could be held up indefinitely amid fears that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won’t agree to a pathway to a Palestinian state, a key component of the agreement.

The Saudis also fear that the deal could become impossible to implement so long as Israel’s war against the Hamas terror group in Gaza continues.

The Saudi Plan B would include a bilateral defense pact, US help in the building of a Saudi civil nuclear energy industry, and high-level sharing in the field of artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies, the Guardian says, adding that Israel ties would be left to a later date.

The article notes that it is not clear if the US, particularly Congress, would support such a deal that excludes normalization with Israel.

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