Diplomatic Briefing

Your exclusive news aggregator handpicked daily!

Newsline: Diplomats ironing out deal between Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt on Red Sea islands

Diplomats and lawyers from the U.S., Israel, Saudi Arabia and Egypt are working on a complex choreography of agreements, understandings and letters that will allow a deal around two strategic Red Sea islands to be inked ahead of President Biden’s visit to the Middle East next month, three Israeli officials told me. The deal would be a significant foreign policy achievement for the Biden administration in the Middle East and could open the way for a gradual warming of relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel. But because Saudi Arabia and Israel don’t have diplomatic relations and can’t sign official bilateral agreements directly, the countries involved are trying to use creative legal and diplomatic solutions to try to indirectly finalize a deal. Despite public protests in Egypt, the Egyptian parliament in June 2017 and the country’s supreme court in March 2018 approved a deal to transfer sovereignty back to Saudi Arabia. But the deal needed buy-in from Israel because of the 1979 peace treaty. Israel gave in principle its approval to transfer the islands back to Saudi Arabia pending an agreement between Cairo and Riyadh on continuing the work of the multinational force of observers who are in charge of patrolling the islands and ensuring that freedom of navigation in the strait remains unhindered. The Biden administration for months has been quietly mediating among Saudi Arabia, Israel and Egypt on a deal that will finalize the transfer of the islands from Egypt to Saudi control. At the center of the mediation efforts is the issue of how to meet the Saudi demand that the U.S.-led multinational force leave the islands while maintaining the same security arrangements and political commitments the Israelis need, as Axios previously reported. (https://www.axios.com/2022/06/29/israel-saudi-arabia-egypt-red-sea-deal-normalization) Israeli officials want to make sure any commitment the Egyptians made in their peace agreement with Israel is still binding for the Saudis, especially the agreement to allow Israeli ships through the Straits of Tiran. The Saudi and Egyptian embassies in the U.S. did not respond to requests for comment.

No comments yet»

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: