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Eye to Eye: Saudi Arabia and Hurricanes Hillary and Idalia  - William Koenig 

This had been a very quiet tropical storm and hurricane season despite the record heat in the Western and Southern United States. 

Then Hillary formed as tropical storm Wednesday morning, August 16, as Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer was arriving in Washington, D.C., for a meeting the following day with Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. Hillary became a hurricane on August 17, the day Blinken and Dermer were meeting. They discussed a possible Israel-Saudi deal and the tensions in the region. 

Record-setting Hillary moved into Southern California Sunday evening, August 20. Hurricane Hilary brought Southern California its first-ever tropical storm watch.

According to an August 25 report, U.S. officials stressed to Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer during the recent visit that Israel will have to make far-reaching concessions to the Palestinians to secure a normalization agreement with Saudi Arabia.

Hurricane Idalia formed in the afternoon of Saturday, August 26, in the Yucatan Channel. On Tuesday, August 29, Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid of the Yesh Atid Party office reported he will travel to the United States next week for high level meetings in Washington. (Netanyahu has still not been invited to the White House.) 

The summer of 2020 was one of the most active hurricane seasons in U.S. history as the Jarred Kushner led Abraham Accords were being negotiated. The many record-setting hurricanes directly corresponded to White House efforts as the point man. 

Hurricane Sally (derivate of the Hebrew name Sarah) slammed into the Southern Gulf Coast on September 15, 2020, a few hours after the Abraham Accords were signed on the White House South Lawn (Eye to Eye chronology of 2020 and other years.

Note: Ron Dermer, Yair Lapid and Barak Ravid have all received copies of Eye to Eye – Facing the Consequences of Dividing Israel. 


The following is an article by my Israeli friend Barak Ravid. Barak is one of Israel’s top journalists and very connected.  

Scoop: Palestinians gave Saudis list of what they want in Israel-Saudi peace deal



August 16, 2023 

Hillary forms on August 16, 2023

Wikipedia: Hurricane Hilary was a large, potent Category 4 Pacific hurricane in August 2023 which brought torrential rainfall and gusty winds to the Pacific Coast of Mexico, the Baja California Peninsula and the Southwestern United States, resulting in widespread flooding and numerous mudslides. Hilary broke records in four U.S. states for wettest tropical cyclone or its remnants.

On August 18, the NHC issued its first-ever tropical storm watch for Southern California, and a level 4/high risk for excessive rainfall was issued by the Weather Prediction Center.[39] This became the first ever high risk of flash flooding in the desert valleys of Southern California east of the Peninsular Ranges


August 17, 2023 

Israeli Minister Ron Dermer meets Antony Blinken amid potential Saudi-Israel deal

The meeting Israel-U.S. meeting comes amid a recent conversation between Blinken and the Saudi foreign minister 


August 21, 2023

Former Hurricane Hilary brought Southern California its first-ever tropical storm watch


August 22, 2023

A Saudi-Israeli Peace Deal? Who Wants What and Why

A deal is being negotiated that, if completed, would result in Saudi Arabia, for the first time, establishing warm relations with Israel. The main thing the Saudis would get in exchange — security guarantees — wouldn’t come from Israel but from its closest ally — the US. Israel, a high-tech power, would play a major role in ambitious Saudi plans to move its economy beyond oil. It would also be expected to make concessions to the Palestinian self-ruling authority in the West Bank. The US would regain some of its influence over Saudi Arabia, stemming efforts by China to expand its sway in the Middle East. The deal offers significant rewards to all four governments, not least of them additional ways of dealing with Iranian military activity in the region. But the prospect of the pact stirs populist forces among all of their constituencies, posing risks to those in power. 


August 23, 2023 

Sullivan: ‘Still a ways to travel’ before Israel-Saudi deal

         U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said on Tuesday that while work on an Israel-Saudi normalization deal is ongoing, such a deal isn’t imminent. 

         Sullivan has traveled to Riyadh numerous times over the last six months in a bid to broker an agreement.

         “There is still a ways to travel with respect to all of the elements of those discussions, and they get quite technical,” he said on Tuesday. He added that the Biden administration was planning to ask the International Atomic Energy Agency for an advisory opinion on a potential Saudi civilian nuclear program that would include uranium enrichment.

         Earlier this month, the White House downplayed claims that the Saudis had agreed to the “broad contours” of a normalization deal with Israel.

         “There’s no agreed framework to codify the normalization or any of the other security considerations that we and our friends have in the region,” said U.S. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby.


August 24, 2023 

Biden May Meet Saudi Crown Prince Amid Israel Peace Push: Report

President Joe Biden is reportedly considering meeting with Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman at the G20 summit, which takes place next month in New Delhi.

The meeting "could give a significant push" to talks between the two countries, which have aimed at reaching a historic deal that would normalize relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel, Axios reported. The Biden administration is pushing to complete negotiations before the president devotes all his attention to his reelection campaign.

At least parts of the deal would likely have to pass Congress, where even Biden's fellow Democrats are critical of the Saudi crown prince, Axios noted.


August 25, 2023

The President’s Inbox Recap: Israeli-Saudi Peace Deal – CFR
US warns Israel not to ‘misread situation’ on potential for Saudi deal — report

US officials stressed to Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer during a recent visit that Israel will have to make far-reaching concessions to the Palestinians to secure a normalization agreement with Saudi Arabia, according to a Friday report.

The Axios report, which cited current and former US officials, said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Dermer that Israel is “misreading the situation” if it does not believe significant gestures to the Palestinians are necessary to assuage the Saudis, who he said will need to demonstrate tangible results to other Arab and Muslim countries if they are to make a deal with Israel.


August 26 

US warns Israel not to ‘misread situation’ on potential for Saudi deal — report  

US officials stressed to Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer during a recent visit that Israel will have to make far-reaching concessions to the Palestinians to secure a normalization agreement with Saudi Arabia, according to a Friday report.


August 27, 2023 

DeSantis declares state of emergency for much of Florida as possible tropical storm forms in Gulf of Mexico

GOP presidential candidate and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency Saturday for much of his state, as a possible tropical storm brewed in the Gulf of Mexico. 

The National Hurricane Center said Tropical Storm Idalia formed Sunday in the Gulf of Mexico on a potential track to come ashore as a hurricane in the southern U.S.

DeSantis issued an executive order with the emergency declaration for 33 counties in preparation for the storm initially known as Invest 93L, saying it was expected to strengthen into a tropical storm in the coming days.  

Intensifying Idalia barrels toward Florida as formidable hurricane; expected to reach category 3 hurricane strength


August 29, 2023 

Lapid to meet US officials in DC as Netanyahu visit still up in the air

Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid of the Yesh Atid Party will travel to the United States next week for high-level meetings in Washington, his office said on Tuesday.

         Lapid is to meet with senior officials at the White House and the State Department as well as members of Congress.

         During the meetings, U.S. officials intend to bring up the normalization process with Saudi Arabia. Riyadh has requested American help for a Saudi civilian nuclear program in exchange for ties with Israel, a demand that Lapid has publicly opposed.

         “I am very much in favor of a normalization agreement with Saudi Arabia,” he said during a TV interview earlier this month, before adding, “But not at the expense of uranium enrichment that would endanger Israel’s security.”

         Lapid’s planned visit comes as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been snubbed, so far denied a traditional White House visit. On July 17, more than six months after Netanyahu returned to the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, U.S. President Joe Biden invited Netanyahu for a meeting “somewhere in the United States” at some time “later this year.”

Idalia upgrades to Category 2 hurricane, authorities warn Gulf Coast residents to leave: ‘Unprecedented event’ 
National Hurricane Center: Idalia forecast to be an extremely dangerous Category 4 at landfall


August 30, 2023  

Idalia comes ashore in Florida: last minute move lessened the devastation  

A clearer picture was beginning to emerge on Friday of devastation caused by Hurricane Idalia across five states, as analysts suggested the effects could have been far worse. 

The center of the cyclone that struck Florida’s Gulf coast as a category 4 hurricane early on Wednesday with 160mph gusts took a last-minute turn away from the state capital, Tallahassee, and into sparsely populated coastal communities in the Big Bend region.

Additionally, experts said, Idalia unexpectedly weakened slightly just before landfall as it went through a meteorological phenomenon called an eyewall replacement, compacting the most intense power of the storm into a smaller surface area.

Saudi funding offer to PA seen as step toward normalization with Israel
Peace With Israel Means War With Iran

Policymakers in Washington and the Middle East have been busy talking about the possibility of Saudi Arabia normalizing its ties with Israel in return, in part, for a formal defense pact with the United States. Receiving far less attention is a critical question, at least for Riyadh: Would such a move jeopardize Saudi Arabia’s recent diplomatic accord with Iran?

There’s strong reason to think it would. Iran doesn’t just have adversarial relations with Israel. The two countries have been in a shadow war for decades—one that has escalated over the past seven years. Just last year, it was reported that the Israeli military had carried out more than 400 airstrikes since 2017 in Syria and other parts of the Middle East against targets belonging to Iran and its sub-state allies. One would imagine the number of such attacks has gone up since.

If Saudi Arabia embraces Israel, Iran will likely throw everything but the kitchen sink at the Saudis. It will more aggressively challenge the kingdom’s legitimacy as leader of the Muslim world and most probably threaten its very security—either directly, as it did in September 2019, when it struck Saudi oil facilities with drones and missiles, or indirectly through regional surrogates, including the Houthis in Yemen.


August 31, 2023 

Palestinians seek ‘irreversible’ measures as part of Israel-Saudi deal, officials say



September 1, 2023 

Netanyahu prepared to quit in return for Israel-Saudi peace deal - report; Netanyahu denies

The prime minister is committed to "making any deal with the Saudis possible, even at the price of toppling his own government," HaModia reported.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday denied ultra-Orthodox reports he was preparing for the collapse of his government in return for a US-backed normalization deal with Saudi Arabia

According to a report published in the Agudat Yisrael-affiliated haredi paper HaModia on Friday morning, Netanyahu had resigned to the fact that "his political career is nearing an end."

Netanyahu, in accordance with White House officials, will receive the long-awaited Saudi normalization deal and plea bargain for his criminal trials for his resignation, with the understanding being that he "does not have the capacity to manage the country in Israel's current political state," as per the report.


States count cost of Hurricane Idalia as experts say it could have been far worse

         Initial estimates at the cost of the damage from Idalia varied from $9bn to about $20bn, the most expensive climate disaster in the US so far this year but far below the $112bn cost of Hurricane Ian, which ravaged heavily populated south-west Florida in September 2022 with the loss of 149 lives.