May 26, 2022 - World

Key Israeli official to travel to U.S. for talks on Biden visit, Iran and Saudi Arabia

Eyal Hulata in 2021.
Israeli national security adviser Eyal Hulata speaks in Bahrain on Nov. 21, 2021. Photo: Mazen Mahdi/AFP via Getty Images

Israeli national security adviser Eyal Hulata will travel to Washington, D.C., next week for talks with his White House counterpart Jake Sullivan on Saudi Arabia, President Biden’s upcoming visit to Israel, and the stalled nuclear talks with Iran, three Israeli officials told Axios.

Why it matters: Hulata is the Israeli point of contact as the White House quietly meditates between Israel, Saudi Arabia and Egypt on finalizing security arrangements for two strategic islands in the Red Sea.

  • Israel and the U.S. hope that if a deal is reached, it could create trust and momentum and lead to separate normalization steps by Saudi Arabia towards Israel.

Driving the news: Hulata will travel to Washington with a delegation of national security, foreign policy and intelligence officials who will hold another round of talks at the U.S.-Israel strategic forum on Iran, the Israeli officials said.

  • Hulata and his team want to continue discussing a possible “Plan B” for a scenario in which the U.S. does not return to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran in the near future.
  • Israeli officials say they want the U.S. and its European allies to push for a censure resolution against Iran at the upcoming meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) board of governors meeting in June.

State of play: Hulata is expected to discuss with Sullivan Biden's upcoming visit to the Middle East. He will also be briefed about the visit by Biden's advisers to Saudi Arabia and on the progress of the talks the U.S. had with Saudi officials on the Red Sea islands and possible normalization steps, Israeli officials said.

  • The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Hulata's expected visit.

Behind the scenes: In the last year, Hulata was the main point of contact for the Israeli government with the White House, primarily on Iran.

  • Hulata has led a tough line on Iran, but at the same time encouraged Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to avoid public clashes and maintain good relations with the Biden administration.
  • Israeli officials said Hulata stressed in a security cabinet meeting that Israel will have to continue working closely with the Biden administration on Iran with or without a return to a deal.
  • Hulata led the Israeli diplomatic campaign against removing the Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps from the U.S. foreign terrorist organizations list.
  • Israeli officials say the campaign contributed to President Biden’s decision not to remove the IRGC from the terror blacklist without reciprocal moves from Iran.

What’s next: No final date for Biden’s visit to Israel has been set yet, but Israeli officials said they hope to lock it down during next week’s talks.

Go deeper: U.S. negotiating deal among Saudis, Israelis and Egyptians

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