The Abraham Accords, sealed under the auspices of Mr. Trump, established normal diplomatic relations between Israel and several Arab states, including the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. But Saudi Arabia remains the elusive target, one that would go a long way toward validating Israel’s status in the region if it were to formally recognize the Jewish state.
Prince Faisal bin Farhan al-Saud, the Saudi foreign minister, sounded optimistic recently about eventually joining the accords but maintained that progress had to be made first on resolving Israel’s long-running conflict with the Palestinians.
“We always envisioned that there will be full normalization with Israel, and I’ve said before that a full normalization between us and Israel, between the region and Israel, will bring immense benefits,” he said last week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “We won’t be able to reap those benefits unless we address the issue of Palestine.”
Mr. Biden was already prepared to end the isolation of Prince Mohammed as far back as October when he expected to encounter the Saudi leader at a meeting of the Group of 20 leaders and most likely would have shaken hands. But the prince did not attend.
The newly planned stop in Riyadh, previously reported by David Ignatius, a columnist for The Post, produced quick criticism from human rights groups. They denounced any diplomatic rehabilitation of Prince Mohammed.
“Right now, Biden is buffeted by intersecting crises, and certain human rights priorities are suffering as a result,” said Suzanne Nossel, the chief executive of PEN America, a group that defends free expression around the world. “The harder it gets to put human rights above politics, the more consequential it is for the world to witness a leader willing to do so.”
An advocacy group called 9/11 Families United, representing relatives of victims from the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, sent the president a letter on Thursday urging him to press Saudi leaders on ties with the hijackers. Mr. Biden last year ordered the declassification of documents from the Sept. 11 investigation into Saudi involvement.