A bipartisan group of US senators arrived in Saudi Arabia as part of a trip through the region aimed at keeping Saudi-Israeli diplomacy on track and trying to prevent Israel’s conflict with Hamas from spreading into a wider war.
(Bloomberg) — A bipartisan group of US senators arrived in Saudi Arabia as part of a trip through the region aimed at keeping Saudi-Israeli diplomacy on track and trying to prevent Israel’s conflict with Hamas from spreading into a wider war.
The group of 10 senators includes the No. 2 Republican, John Thune of South Dakota, as well as Democrat Ben Cardin of Maryland, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Also among the travelers are several senators who sit on the Senate Appropriations Committee, which will weigh a White House request for more than $100 billion in supplemental funding for Israel and Ukraine, among other administration priorities.
“The United States and Saudi Arabia have a common interest in preserving the stability, security, and prosperity of the Gulf region,” according to a statement from Senator Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Republican who has pressed to make sure Israel’s diplomatic outreach to Saudi Arabia proceeds despite the conflict. Graham, who is on the trip, said earlier that the group will also go to Israel.
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It’s the second high-level Senate delegation to visit the region in recent days after Chuck Schumer of New York, the Senate majority leader, passed through on Oct. 15. US lawmakers are eager to relay their backing for Israel as it prepares what’s expected to be a punishing ground invasion of Gaza, while also urging its forces to avoid a humanitarian crisis. But the proposed aid package could be stymied by turmoil in the House leadership and opposition from some hardline GOP members to more funds for Ukraine.
In support for an initiative by President Joe Biden’s administration, Graham has led a push to preserve diplomacy aimed at normalizing relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia.
That American-led initiative was gaining momentum until Hamas — which is designated a terrorist organization by the US and the European Union — attacked Israel on Oct. 7 and Israel’s retaliation put those conversations on hold.
Earlier: Saudis Put Israel Normalization on Hold in Blow to US Goals
“To our friends in Israel, you — you need the time and space to destroy Hamas,” Graham said on NBC’s Meet the Press on Oct. 15. “All Palestinians are not the same. If Hamas is destroyed, Israel is safer, and the pathway to peace between the Palestinians and the world gets wider.”
He said he was “somewhat optimistic that Iran’s goal to destroy the peace process between Israel and Saudi Arabia will fail.”
Also on the trip are Democrats Richard Blumenthal, Cory Booker, Chris Coons and Jack Reed, and Republicans Katie Britt, Susan Collins and Dan Sullivan.
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