'Hamas attacked Israel to stop historic agreement with Saudi': Biden

Hamas's October 7 attack led to retaliatory airstrikes by Israel

ISRAEL-PALESTINIANS/BIDEN US President Joe Biden delivers a prime-time address to the nation about his approaches to the conflict between Israel and Hamas, and continued support for Ukraine, from the Oval Office | Reuters

President Joe Biden said he thought Hamas was motivated to attack Israel in part by a desire to stop that country from normalising relations with Saudi Arabia.

“One of the reasons Hamas moved on Israel - they knew that I was about to sit down with the Saudis,” Biden said at a fundraising event. The US president indicated that he thinks Hamas militants launched a deadly assault on October 7 because, “Guess what? The Saudis wanted to recognise Israel and were near being able to formally do so”.

Jerusalem and Riyadh had been steadily inching closer to normalisation, with Biden working to help bring the two countries together, announcing plans in September at the Group of 20 summit in India to partner on a shipping corridor.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Biden at the UN General Assembly in September and told him, “I think that under your leadership, Mr President, we can forge a historic peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia”.

The Saudis had been insisting on protection and expanded rights for Palestinian interests as part of any broader agreement with Israel. An agreement would have been a feat of diplomacy that could have enabled broader recognition of Israel by other Arab and Muslim-majority nations that have largely opposed Israel since its creation 75 years ago in territory where Palestinians have long resided.

But talks were interrupted after Hamas militants stormed from the blockaded Gaza Strip where Palestinians live into nearby Israeli towns.

The October 7 attack coincided with a major Jewish holiday. It led to retaliatory airstrikes by Israel that have left the world on edge with the US trying to keep the war from widening, as 1,400 Israelis and 4,137 Palestinians have been killed. Hamas also captured more than 200 people as hostages after the initial assault.

Join our WhatsApp Channel to get the latest news, exclusives and videos on WhatsApp