With the war in Gaza having intensified following the end of the recent U.S.-supported pause in fighting, it has become clear that this conflict is upending President Joe Biden’s plans for the Middle East.
For the past three years, under both former President Donald Trump and Biden, Washington advanced the Abraham Accords between Israel and Arab states, in an effort to facilitate Israel’s regional integration with a promise of peace and prosperity. All the while, the U.S. was chasing after the crown jewel of normalization—an Israel-Saudi peace deal.
But the war has dealt a body blow to Arab-Israeli normalization, at least on the terms previously considered. While Gulf states at the forefront of normalization like the United Arab Emirates are maintaining relations with Israel, the extraordinary death toll and destruction in Gaza is further stiffening public sentiment against normalization and constraining how far Arab leaders can pursue cooperation in such a regional climate.