GOP lawmakers in the House and Senate have backed a report released Wednesday by pro-Israeli think tank the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA) that said normalizing ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia was key for U.S. security interests.
The 48-page document reviewed the advances made between Israel and four Arab nations under the 2020 Abraham Accords, which forged alliances between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan.
The report – put together in part by a task force of top officials who formally served in diplomatic and military roles during the Bush, Obama and Trump administrations – argued shoring up Israeli-Saudi ties would not only stabilize the region but serve greater U.S. geopolitical needs.
“As an enormously influential Muslim state, bringing it into the Accords would be a game-changer that could transform the geopolitics of the Middle East,” states the report, first obtained by Fox News Digital. “The Accords provide an ideal platform for increased burden-sharing that empowers America’s most capable regional partners to do more together in defense of Middle East stability and security.”
The report argues that bolstering ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia would not only serve to help stabilize the region, but it would establish a stronger unifying force between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, who share a common adversary – Iran.
Apart from strengthening defenses against Tehran, the report states that expanding the Accord could also help counter other geopolitical uncertainties as tensions mount with Russia and China looks to expand its reach into the Middle East.
“This is all the more important in light of recent reports that Riyadh is working with Beijing to develop ballistic missiles,” the report says. “And the signal it sends more generally about Riyadh’s willingness to pursue alternative strategic partnerships if relations with Washington continue to fray.”
The report additionally called on the Biden administration and Congress to establish a bipartisan strategy to expand diplomatic ties under the Accords.
“I think we have a historic opportunity through American diplomacy to transform the trajectory of the Middle East,” Rep. Mike Waltz, R-Fla., said. “I will most certainly be urging my fellow members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, my colleagues on relevant committees, those interested in security and stability of this vital region, to take a hard look at the report’s findings.”
In addition to bolstering Israeli-Saudi ties, the report urges for amplified Israeli involvement in U.S. CENTCOM, which would increase joint exercises and cooperation in the region.
The task force also pushed for strengthened maritime cooperation and aerial defense systems between the Accord nations to shore up defenses in the Middle East, particularly as Iran expands its proxy forces.
“Israel is the leading democracy and our strongest ally in the Middle East,” Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., told Fox News Digital. “America now has an opportunity to strengthen and expand that coalition. But this progress won’t come without real effort and leadership from the U.S. government.”
But despite GOP support for the suggestions laid out in the report, the Biden administration and Democratic lawmakers may not be as eager to strengthen ties with Saudi Arabia given its complex relationship with the oil-rich nation.
Biden from the campaign trail called the Saudi government a “pariah” for its involvement in the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. But he has since failed to hold the Middle Eastern nation accountable as tensions with Iran remain high.
The report also notes that the administration could face harsh blowback from voters and within its party for brokering Israeli-Saudi ties, but said the geopolitical recompense could be worth it.
“The strategic payoffs to U.S. national interests would be consequential and far-reaching, a truly historic achievement of American diplomacy that would fundamentally change the Middle East for the better,” the report reads, adding the decision could also “dramatically enhance[e] President Biden’s own legacy and stature as an international statesman.”
Biden made shoring up international alliances a cornerstone of his candidacy but has faced steep diplomatic challenges since entering office in attempting to reestablish the Iran nuclear agreement, reaffirm ties with western nations, stabilize relations with China and attempt to stave off a potential war with Russia over Ukraine.
But the messy withdrawal from Afghanistan has left lawmakers on both sides of the aisle concerned about the U.S. image overseas – an issue Waltz said should encourage the Biden administration to act in expanding the Abraham Accords.
“The Biden administration, let’s be candid, gives a lot of lip service to diplomacy first, I think that’s great,” Waltz said in a statement. “But in the wake of the debacle that was the Afghanistan withdrawal, we have a lot of work to do in terms of restoring American credibility with our allies.”