A new Saudi-US deal to reshape the Middle East is taking shape — but Israel can't join while it's still at war

  • A new Saudi-US security deal is being negotiated, reports said.

  • It resembles the deal that was forming before it was derailed on October 7 by the Hamas terror attacks.

  • A deal dubbed "plan B" Israel is, for now, excluded because of its war on Gaza.

The US and Saudi Arabia are said to be drawing closer to a historic deal that could reshape the Middle East — by sidestepping the vexed issue of Israel's war in Gaza.

According to Bloomberg, the deal would involve the US providing security guarantees to Saudi Arabia and sharing key technology in areas like AI, nuclear energy and quantum computing.

The deal would allow the US to counter growing Chinese influence in the region and provide the Saudis with a bulwark against Iran.

The surprise part of the deal is that, for now, it would exclude Israel.

The proposed new deal closely resembles an earlier deal, under which Saudi Arabia would've agreed to normalize relations with Israel in exchange for security and technology guarantees.

But the October 7 Hamas attacks on Israel, and Israel's retaliatory war on Gaza, derailed that process.

Some analysts believe this was exactly the plan: that Hamas wanted to ruin any chances of Israel-Arab normalization.

Saudi Arabia afterward said it would only agree to normalize relations with Israel if it brought its attacks on Gaza to an end and agreed to the creation of a Palestinian state.

That appears to be a big roadblock. Israel would likely reject the Saudi demand for a Palestinian state, and its Gaza campaign shows no signs of winding down.

So for now, The Guardian reported, the Saudis are proposing a "plan B" containing many of the benefits of the original deal but leaving out Israel.

According to the report, Israel will be invited to join the pact, but if it refuses, it could be agreed upon anyway.

Under the deal, the Saudis would agree to exclude China from key technology, reported Bloomberg. Last year, Business Insider reported on deals between the kingdom's ruler, Mohammed bin Salman, and China for surveillance technology as Beijing seeks to supplant the US as a regional economic and political powerbroker.

China outflanked the US in 2023 by negotiating a deal to restore diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran, who are longtime regional rivals.

The US has, in recent weeks, been pressing Israel to negotiate a cease-fire to its Gaza campaign amid rising domestic and international opposition to the war. According to Gazan health authorities, the conflict claimed tens of thousands of civilian lives there.

The US has held out the prospect of normalization with Saudi Arabia as an incentive to Israel.

But skeptics say that a US-Saudi deal that excludes Israel is unlikely to be approved by Congress, which has long seen Israel as its most important regional ally.

Read the original article on Business Insider