Will Saudi be Next to Normalize With Israel?

Published October 22nd, 2021 - 05:57 GMT
Downtown Riyadh (AFP File Folder)

ALBAWABA – Will Saudi Arabia be the next to normalize relations with Israel? This is what everybody is asking today in the light of the diving social media news. Almost every day, there are morsels of information about who is going to establish diplomatic relations with Israel after the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco who have shook hands willingly with the Jewish state. 

While it turned out that next in line is to be Comoros eagerly waiting to establish relations for added benefits no doubt, eyes continue on Riyadh and the Saudi leadership to establish full-fledged and unmitigated diplomatic relations with Israel who now sees this as a cornerstone of its foreign politics along with its old rival Iran of course. 

With news just out that US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan has raised the issue when he met the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman in the futuristic city of Neom on the Red Sea on 27 September, there is as yet no official confirmation that Saudi will ever establish relations with Israel under the present stalemated circumstances. Oh yes there is now plenty of "Israeli diplomacy" but there is nothing substantial yet!

So what are the circumstances it might be added? Rumour has it that Saudi Arabia wants to normalize, after all, it is strongly suggested it was Riyadh that pushed Bahrain to sign a deal with Israel. And therefore, the Gulf normalization process has been sealed with its blessing. 

But easy does it! In his meeting with Sullivan, who is also pushing, MBS – the man at the helm of Saudi politics – has told the Joe Biden Advisor that Saudi Arabia will only normalize after conditions are met. Specifically, he said there are a “list of measures” that must be made before Riyadh decides to go that way officially, openly and transparently. 

The press has not so far been privy to the list of measures but intelligent conjecture would probably figure out what the Saudis want. Ok, the solution to the Palestinian question is a must, after all, the Saudis had been behind the Arab Peace Initiative long put forward in 2002, but they want more. 

First of all, Riyadh wants the Jamal Khoshaggi file to be closed once and for all. It doesn’t want skeletons-in-the-cupboard coming out from any side. But this might be a glitch by itself because the Biden administration has made the issue of improving human rights around the world is one of the files it wants to pursue. So that could be a bit tricky!

However, there might still be a way around that. Mike Pompeo, the US Secretary of State in the Trump administration says Saudi could indeed still normalize with Israel but under one could condition: Biden must go hard on Iran and its nuclear file. Then it will think seriously about normalization with Israel. 

However, it is further argued the real reason why Saudi Arabia has not normalized yet is because of the pressing hand of King Salman on his son MBS. If that's true, we can only say don't let go!

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