RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flew to Saudi Arabia last weekend for a secret nightly meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, he and his allies in Washington had hoped for a long-standing within reach, said Saudi advisers and US authorities.
Instead, after the meeting, the Israeli leader returned home empty-handed, and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, also in Saudi Arabia at the time, saw the Trump administration’s efforts to reshape the region’s policies and build a foothold. against Iran slipped out of his hands, advisers and officials said.
U.S. officials hoped to build on the momentum of the so-called Abraham Accords, which formalized ties between Israel and two other Arab states in the Persian Gulf, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, and remove the biggest remaining barrier to Israel̵
But Prince Mohammed withdrew from the deal, according to Saudi advisers and US officials, mainly because of the outcome of the US election. Saudi aides say the prince, eager to build ties with President-elect Joe Biden’s new administration, is reluctant to take the step now that he can later use the deal to help strengthen relations with the new US leader.
Mr Biden said he also supported normalization agreements between Arab states and Israel. He has taken a stronger stance on human rights in Saudi Arabia, in particular the assassination of dissident journalist Jamal Hashoghi. And a deal made under the new president’s auspices could put relations between the Biden administration and Riyadh on a more secure footing, Saudi aides said.