Israel to push Biden to ease on Saudi Arabia, UAE and Egypt

Israel plans to lobby the incoming Biden administration to avoid confrontations with Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt over human rights and other contentious issues, senior Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: President-elect Biden has promised to keep human rights and democracy at the forefront of US foreign policy, and after his election victory he overtook all three when making phone calls to leaders of 17 countries. He was particularly important to Saudi Arabia during the campaign in Yemen on war and human rights issues.

  • Israel oversees its security and intelligence relations with the three countries to form a strategy to counter Iran and an important pillar in regional security.
  • Now, Israel fears that Biden will not only make a deal with Iran, but will also build good relations with America’s Arab allies.

Driving news: Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt all this week welcomed the controversial decision of the state’s Mike Pompeo to name Yemen’s Houthi rebels as a terrorist organization.

  • Israel has not taken any position on that decision – which some Democrats are already lobbying to overturn Biden – but has been re-emphasizing Yemen’s position in recent weeks.
  • The reason is because of threats from Iran-backed Houthis over Israeli shipping to the Red Sea, but mainly to Saudi Arabia and Egypt, due to the implication of further Iranian incursions into the country, Israeli officials say.
  • What to see: The Israelis know that Biden will have a very different policy on Yemen than Trump, especially when it comes to the Saudi role in the war. But they plan to encourage the new administration to ensure that its policy changes do not deepen Iranian influence or jeopardize regional cooperation on other issues.

Behind the scenes: Israeli defense officials told me that they plan to make a case to the Biden administration that the region has changed over the last four years, as a new regional alignment strengthens Israel’s ties with Arab countries.

  • Israel hopes that the new administration will prioritize that process over its concerns over war or human rights abuses in Yemen.
  • in one hand: Officials say Israel has encouraged Egypt and Saudi Arabia to take steps on human rights issues to improve the atmosphere for dialogue with the Biden administration.
  • On another: He also plans to warn Biden’s team that a crisis in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt’s relations could push those countries away from the US and towards Russia and China.

What they are saying “We were very close to losing Egypt many years ago and our message to the Biden administration would be: slow it down, dramatic changes took place, don’t come with prejudices and don’t harm relations with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the great UAE.” , “” A senior Israeli official told me.


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