Normalization with Saudi Arabia is possible

The internal Palestinian division and the growing succession battle in the PA do not allow the renewal of the political process and this is the time to try to achieve a political breakthrough in relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia. Achieving normalization in relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia is possible, but Saudi Arabia demands real progress in the Israeli-Palestinian channel.

Prime Minister Netanyahu met with Jack Sullivan, the national security advisor of the Biden administration, and discussed with him the strengthening of the normalization process with Arab countries and the promotion of normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

The Arab countries’ fear barrier against normalization with the State of Israel has been broken, the signing of the Abraham Accords was an important breakthrough on the way to ending the Arab-Israeli conflict, Israel today has normalization agreements with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan and peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan, a normalization agreement with Saudi Arabia , the leader of the Sunni world, is only a matter of time.

The question is whether it is possible to achieve the normalization agreement during the Netanyahu government and the Biden administration in view of the bad relations between President Biden and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman because of the Khashoukgi murder affair and in view of the composition of the current right-wing coalition in Israel.

Israel can definitely be a factor that brings the Biden administration closer to Saudi Arabia, in the background there are important developments such as the decrease in the possibility of signing the nuclear agreement between Iran and the powers and the Hijab protest in Iran which has the potential to create a change in the Iranian regime over time.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu sees great importance in achieving the normalization agreement with Saudi Arabia, according to him, this will bring an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict, therefore, in recent months, he has been working through secret channels between himself and the Saudis to promote the issue.

According to political sources in Jerusalem, the mediators are American government officials from the Republican administrations.

In Saudi Arabia there are already several hundred Israeli businessmen who run their businesses even though there are no official ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

A normalization agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia is very important for Israel for two reasons:
It will assist in establishing an Israeli, Arab and American coalition against Iran and may also have a positive effect on Israel’s relations with the Palestinians, such an agreement will prompt the Palestinians to understand that the Arab world wants peace with Israel and that it is their turn to seriously integrate into this process.

The year 2023 could be the year when a normalization agreement is reached between Israel and Saudi Arabia or at least the year when a serious breakthrough in this direction is achieved.

According to sources in the Palestinian Authority who are familiar with the secret contacts between Israel and Saudi Arabia, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has a list of conditions to achieve a political breakthrough in relations with Israel.

A. Israeli commitment not to annex territories in Judea and Samaria.
B. Maintaining the status quo on the Temple Mount and giving Saudi Arabia a foothold in the holy compound.

C. Israeli steps to improve the daily life of Palestinians in the West Bank.

d. An Israeli commitment to work with the US administration and Congress to approve the sale of advanced weapons to Saudi Arabia, including F-35 aircraft.

E. Creating a political horizon for the Palestinians based on the two-state principle based on the Arab peace initiative from 2002.

The position of the elderly King of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abdulaziz, is much more rigid than the position of his son, the Crown Prince, he believes that a normalization or peace agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia can only be signed after a political settlement is reached between Israel and the Palestinians.

As of this time, there is no indication that progress has been made in the secret contacts between Israel and Saudi Arabia, during the World Cup games in Qatar, the Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs said that the matter of normalization between the two countries requires more time, this is in view of the publication of news in the Arab media that 80 percent of Arabs oppose normalization with Israel.

Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan said on January 19 in an interview with the Bloomberg news agency that true normalization will come through giving hope to the Palestinians and this requires giving them a state.

It is difficult to see Saudi Arabia currently giving up on the Arab peace initiative, which is based on the Saudi peace initiative, but it seems that Israel trusts the pragmatism of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who is considered the strongest man in Saudi Arabia who has proven that he has a political vision and the ability to march the kingdom towards progress, Prime Minister Netanyahu has also proven in his ability to achieve a breakthrough in Israel’s relations with the Arab world and the evidence for this is the Abrahamic Agreements.

But, senior Saudi officials emphasize that Israel must make real progress in its relations with the Palestinians.

Therefore, time must not be wasted, while the internal Palestinian division continues and the battle for succession at the top of the Palestinian Authority increases, the political energy must be invested in the practical possibilities for achieving progress in Israel’s relations with Arab countries and focus on relations with Saudi Arabia, there is certainly the possibility of achieving a political breakthrough and a creative way to mediate can be found on the differences in positions between the two countries.

Yoni Ben Menachem Senior Middle East Analyst

About Yoni Ben Menachem

Yoni Ben Menachem is a Middle East senior analyst ,a journalist and
the former CEO of the Israel Broadcasting Authority(IBA). He has
decades of experience in written and video journalism. Ben
Menachem’s path in the media world began as a producer for
Japanese television in the Middle East. After that, he held many key
positions in the media The Israeli: CEO of the Israel Broadcasting
Authority, director of “Kol Israel” Radio, reporter on West Bank and
Gaza Strip affairs, political reporter and commentator, commentator
on Middle East affairs and editor-in-chief and presenter of the
program “Middle East Magazine”. 

Recent Posts

My Twitter