US security official discusses Gaza war with Saudi’s MBS before Israel trip

White House national security adviser tours Middle East after Biden warned Israel about ‘indiscriminate’ bombing of Gaza.

US NSA Jake Sullivan
US National Security adviser Jake Sullivan revisited the possibility of normalising relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia, in a meeting with Mohammed bin Salman [Chung Sung-Jun/ AP)

White House national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, met the crown prince of Saudi Arabia to discuss the war in Gaza and efforts towards creating sustainable peace between Israel and Palestine.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) hosted Sullivan on Wednesday during his tour of the Middle East to bolster the United States’s influence in the region.

On Thursday, the US official held talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and members of the war cabinet in Israel as President Joe Biden has warned that Israel risks losing international support over its “indiscriminate bombing” of civilians in Gaza.

Sullivan and MBS discussed “a number of bilateral and regional matters, including ongoing efforts to create new conditions for an enduring and sustainable peace between Israelis and Palestinians”, a White House statement said.

They also discussed the humanitarian response in Gaza, including how to increase the flow of critical aid to the besieged enclave, it added.

Earlier, US officials said Sullivan would also discuss with the Saudis efforts to deter ongoing Houthi attacks against international commercial vessels in the Red Sea.

Officials from the two countries also revisited the possibility of normalising relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia, which was interrupted by the October 7 Hamas attack and subsequent Israeli offensive. All sides have said they want to resurrect the deal when the time is right.

Sullivan and MBS also discussed areas of deepening bilateral cooperation in the fields of security, commerce, space exploration, and advanced technologies, including open radio access (O-Ran) networks, the White House said.

US-Israel relations

Sullivan’s visit to Israel on Thursday comes after the sharp comments Biden made on Tuesday about Israel’s “indiscriminate” bombing of civilians in Gaza.

“[Israel] has most of the world supporting them,” Biden told donors during a political fundraiser in the US. “[But] they’re starting to lose that support by indiscriminate bombing that takes place.”

He also said Israel “can’t say no” to a Palestinian state, which Israeli hardliners, including in Netanyahu’s government, have opposed.

Al Jazeera’s Alan Fisher, reporting from occupied East Jerusalem, said Sullivan’s visit to Israel has a number of goals, including discussing the United Nations General Assembly resolution calling for a ceasefire; Israel’s attacks on civilians; and bringing aid to Gaza, possibly by reopening the Karem Abu Salem crossing between Israel and the Strip.

“There is also the question of what happens the day after the war in Gaza,” Fisher said. “Sullivan has made it clear that there must be some sort of role for the Palestinian Authority. We’re hearing from Netanyahu that that’s not going to happen, and his communications minister said that there will be no Palestinian state.”

Washington has been calling for weeks for Israel to take more care to avoid civilian casualties in Gaza, saying too many Palestinian people have been killed.

Sullivan will discuss with the Israelis the need to be more precise with their strikes against Hamas targets, spokesperson John Kirby told reporters.

More than 18,000 Palestinians have been killed and nearly 50,000 others wounded in the Israeli assault on Gaza since October 7.

Israel launched its onslaught in response to a raid by Hamas fighters from Gaza who killed about 1,100 people in southern Israel.

Source: News Agencies