In a recent statement, President Joe Biden expressed his belief that Hamas’ motivation for attacking Israel was driven, at least in part, by their desire to impede the normalization of relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia. During a fundraising event, Biden confidently declared, “One of the reasons Hamas moved on Israel … they knew that I was about to sit down with the Saudis.” According to the U.S. president, the potential recognition of Israel by Saudi Arabia posed a significant threat to Hamas, prompting their assault on October 7th.
Biden says Hamas attacked Israel in part to stop a historic agreement with Saudi Arabia – https://t.co/yxs1d91fs1
— The Washington Times (@WashTimes) October 21, 2023
For a while now, Jerusalem and Riyadh have been gradually approaching the possibility of normalization, and Biden himself has been actively involved in facilitating this process. Just last month, during the Group of 20 summit in India, he announced plans to collaborate with both countries on a shipping corridor, further solidifying their growing alliance.
During a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the U.N. General Assembly in September, Netanyahu expressed his optimism, saying, “I think that under your leadership, Mr. President, we can forge a historic peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia.” However, the Saudis had been adamant about the inclusion of Palestinian rights and protections in any agreement with Israel. Such a diplomatic breakthrough could potentially pave the way for broader recognition of Israel from other Arab and Muslim-majority nations that have historically opposed its existence.
Unfortunately, talks between Israel and Saudi Arabia were abruptly interrupted when Hamas militants launched an attack from the Gaza Strip, where Palestinians reside, into nearby Israeli towns. This assault, which coincided with a major Jewish holiday, triggered retaliatory airstrikes from Israel, bringing the death toll to 1,400 Israeli and 4,137 Palestinian casualties. Adding to the tension, Hamas also took over 200 people hostage following their initial assault.
The situation remains highly volatile, with the United States working diligently to prevent further escalation. However, it is clear that the desire for peace and normalization in the Middle East continues to face significant challenges.