Saudi Arabia Will Not Normalize With Israel. Here is Why?

Published March 6th, 2022 - 06:31 GMT
Mohammad Ben Salman
Mohammad Ben Salman (AFP File Photo)

Saudi Arabia may need to keep repeating itself until it happens. So people of what ever persuasion shouldn't keep their hopes high until it is settled and the road ahead becomes clearer. 

I am talking about Saudi normalization and the establishment of relations with Israel.

Ever since the Abraham Accords involving the UAE and Bahrain in Sept 2020 and later with Sudan and Morocco many have been holding up the placard high up and guessing which Arab state would be next for a drastic repartee with the Jewish state.

Saudi Arabia was always in the forefront of thought and 'peace current' but that was, and is today, wishful thinking. Saudi Arabia has always said it would normalize but will only do so once the Palestinian issue and problem is solved with the Israelis. In other words, the just rights of the Palestinians must be solved in order for normalization to take place with diplomatic relations replacing anguish and Israel is integrated into the Arab world. 

The notch has been raised upwards recently with the views put forward by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad ben Salman in his recent interview with the US The Atlantic magazine. He said, and in a point-blank way that the Kingdom looks at Israel as a "potential ally' and not as an enemy but before that can happen the Palestinian cause needs to be resolved.

As a direct quote also, and as cited by the Saudi Press Agency the Crown Prince said: "We don't look at Israel as an enemy, we look to them as a potential ally, with many interests that we can pursue together... But we have to solve some issues before we get to that."

The Saudis can't really be any clearer than that despite the terminology used and especially in the light of the fact it has always backed a just solution to the Palestinians based on its 2002 Saudi-proposed Arab Initiative which clearly puts normalization with Israel as subject to its withdrawal from the occupied territories of 1967. Saudi Arabia also supports all the Arab League stands, resolutions and commitments on the Palestinian issue. 

While many Israelis, and I dare say westerners, have said the language used by the Crown Prince about Israel being a "potential ally" is interesting, pleasing and represent a new stage of thinking, it must not be over-stretched or over-played either for Mohammad ben Salman makes it clear the Palestinian issue is central in the final analysis; it is a cornerstone to the Arab-Israeli conflict and any relations that may occur after.

And this is regardless of the Abraham Accords of late 2020 for these agreements do not mean they are a "grave train" to lasting peace as fancifully understood by their architect, the now former US president Donald Trump who then based them on his transactional interests for the whole of the Middle East region.

Essentially all of the countries signed had a "sectional" interest in getting closer to Israel whether its because of so-called Iranian ambition, monetary gain and debt relief and/or the Polasario front and the Sahara Desert. 

Saudi Arabia didn't then and doesn't now need to think in a transactional way based on traditional parochial methods. It's already a juggernaut of a country and doesn't need to make didactic, selfish deals with anyone including Israel. Plus, Riyadh projects itself as a leader in the Arab world, Muslim nation and the Palestinian issue. These serve as central tenets in its foreign policy and world view regardless of slips, here and there. To have them dented by normalization with a state it has always been regarded as an enemy, would be a major bash to the regional and international role it has carved for itself. 

However, the nod and the wink has already started. Its a changing world and everyone must change with it so it seems. As of recently Saudi Arabia has allowed Israeli commercial planes to fly over its airspace, an occurring ever-event after the 2020 Abraham Accords to link the ever-burgeoning air-traffic routes between Abu Dhabi, Manama and Tel Aviv.

But that doesn't mean that normalization is on course but far from it judging from the utterances and plain-speaking in Riyadh though MBS does suggest in reference to the UAE and Bahrain or anybody else for that matter, it is their foreign policy and they are pleased to do what they will and how they see fit. 

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