The attack on Israel by the Palestinian group Hamas on October 7—which resulted in the deaths of over 1,400 people—was intended to thwart any prospective normalisation of relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia that Riyadh could be seeking, as per US President Joe Biden.
Biden suggested Saudi wanted to recognise Israel in the comments he made at a campaign fundraiser.
Saudi Arabia, a Middle East powerhouse and home to Islam’s two holiest shrines, gave its blessing to Gulf neighbours United Arab Emirates and Bahrain establishing relations with Israel in 2020 under the previous US administration of Donald Trump.
Riyadh has not followed suit, saying Palestinian statehood goals should be addressed first.
“One of the reasons Hamas moved on Israel … they knew that I was about to sit down with the Saudis,” Biden said.
“Guess what? The Saudis wanted to recognise Israel.”
The potential normalisation of relations with Saudi Arabia and other Arab states was a top priority for Secretary of State Antony Blinken during his June trip to Riyadh, although he acknowledged no progress should be expected imminently.
Blinken told CNN on Oct. 8 that “it wouldn’t be a surprise that part of the motivation (for the attack) may have been to disrupt efforts to bring Saudi Arabia and Israel together.”
Biden told CBS’ 60 Minutes in an interview that aired last Sunday that the prospect of normalisation was “still alive, it’s going to take time.”
Israel responded to the Oct. 7 attack by pounding Gaza with air strikes, killing at least 4,385 Palestinians, and has said it will act to free hostages taken by Hamas militants while wiping out the group.