US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke separately on Tuesday with both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud amid growing talk of a Saudi deal.
“The Secretary and Prime Minister discussed mutual interests, including expanding Israel’s regional integration and countering threats posed by Iran,” the State Department said about the call.
Blinken also “reaffirmed the strength of the bilateral partnership and US commitment to Israel’s security.”
Israel has pushed to ensure that the Saudi deal, which it believes could be a game changer for the region, would not impact its security or its qualitative military edge.
An Israeli official told reporters on Monday that the country’s security could not be sacrificed in such a deal.
The pending Saudi agreement would primarily be between Washington and Riyadh but it would include a normalization deal with Israel. It’s expected that Israel would have to make concessions to the Palestinians as part of that deal.
In his conversation with Netanyahu Blinken reiterated “continued US support for policies that ensure freedom, security, and prosperity for Israelis and Palestinians alike.”
Separately, Blinken spoke with Abbas about his concern regarding “ongoing violence in the West Bank.”
The two men “discussed their support for a two-state solution and opposition to actions endangering its viability.”
US support for policies that ensure freedom
The call comes as two top US officials, National Security Council Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa Brett McGurk and US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf are expected in Saudi Arabia this week.
It also comes as Netanyahu is planning to travel to the United States later this month and hopes to meet with US President Joe Biden. The two men have not met face-to-face since Netanyahu returned to office at the end of December. US presidents typically extend an invitation to Israeli prime ministers after an election. This did not occur in this instance due to tensions between Israel and the US over the government’s judicial reform plan.
There was no mention of a Biden-Netanyahu meeting in the State Department’s readout of the call.
Separately, opposition leader and former prime minister Yair Lapid met in Washington with McGurk and with Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs Amos Hochstein who visited Lebanon last week.
He asked that they ensure that Israel’s security interests will be maintained in any future agreements.