Iranian national flags flutter near a major highway running through Tehran, Iran. Photo: Ali Mohammadi/Bloomberg via Getty Images
The agreement between Riyadh and Tehran to resume diplomatic relations is the result of “weakness” towards Tehran from the United States, the West and the previous Israeli government, a senior Israeli official told reporters on Friday.
The big picture: The agreement, announced on Friday, came after mediation efforts by the Chinese government – an achievement that sends a signal to the United States about China’s role in the Middle East.
What they say : “There was a sense of weakness from the US and Israel and that’s why the Saudis started looking for new ways. It was clear this was going to happen,” the senior Israeli official told reporters traveling with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his trip to Rome.
- The official claimed the Saudis started talks with Iran in 2021 when they felt the United States was rushing for a new nuclear deal with Iran.
Asked about the Israeli official’s comments, a spokesperson for the White House National Security Council told Axios, “We remain committed to working closely with Israel to jointly address the many challenges and opportunities facing Israel and the Middle East region, including including countering threats from Iran.
- “There is no greater supporter of Israel’s security than President Biden,” the spokesperson added.
Between the lines: The senior Israeli official who briefed reporters said the Israeli government was not worried that the new Saudi-Iranian deal would hamper efforts to achieve a breakthrough that could lead to the normalization of relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia.
- The official said what matters is what happens below the surface and not diplomatic agreements.
- “The American and Israeli positions matter more than the Saudi Arabia-Iran deal. The Western position towards Iran is starting to change but it still hasn’t changed enough,” the official said.