Ever since Mohammed bin Salman climbed up the ladder of success and became Saudi
Arabia’s crown prince, his name has been mentioned in many key Saudi cases. Bin
Salman, who is said to be very close to being crowned as the Saudi king and
assuming his father’s throne, has been a high-profile figure in the Saudi
aggression against Yemen, and now he is on course to play a key role in the
establishment of ties with Israel. Some time ago, Israeli media spoke of a
secret trip to Israel by one of the members of the Al Saud dynasty. Afterwards,
some Western media quoted an Emirati intelligence officer as saying that bin
Salman was Riyadh’s secret emissary to Israel. Tel Aviv and Riyadh have not yet
officially responded to the news; however, as the Emirati official says, the
trip comes to resume the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian
Authority. The news was published days after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu announced last week that Tel Aviv’s ties with the Arab world was at
their highest level. Addressing the staff members of the Israel Foreign
Ministry, he said the relations were at their highest level, ever, in Israel’s
Around three months ago, Israeli Transportation and Intelligence Minister Israel Katz asked Saudi King Salman to invite Netanyahu to visit Saudi Arabia, and send heir to the throne Mohammed bin Salman to Tel Aviv to advance common interests and counter Iran. The minister had also referred to bin Salman as an active and dynamic individual. Now with reports of bin Salman’s trip to Israel, it seems King Salman has met Israel’s demand.
Despite efforts by the Israeli regime as well as Saudi Arabia’s mediation and insistence, some Arab countries have not agreed to recognize Israel as a country so far. Nevertheless, Tel Aviv has covertly established diplomatic and economic relations with some Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia. Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman had already called for the establishment of economic and diplomatic relations with Arab countries. As the minister says, these relations should take shape openly.
This comes as Israel signed peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan years ago. In the meantime, Israeli newspapers report of Tel Aviv forging closer security and military cooperation with Jordan on the country’s border with Syria. Israel has openly helped Egypt in fighting ISIS on the Sinai Peninsula. Maybe that is why many Israeli authorities have announced, time and again, over the past two years that Arab countries’ hostile look has been superseded by willingness to have cooperation with Israel.
The Israeli regime has got closer to Persian Gulf littoral states such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in recent years under the pretext of Iran’s growing influence in the region. Of course, Saudi Arabia’s alignment with Israel, especially in their campaign against Iran, is nothing new, and documents recently released by WikiLeaks show Israel and Saudi Arabia began establishing close relations in the mid-1990s. At that time, Saudi Arabia removed some companies linked to Israel from its list of banned entities. The close relationship between Tel Aviv and Riyadh grew stronger in 2002 when Saudi Arabia presented a peace plan. Saudi Arabia continued sending positive signals to Israel in 2005 when Riyadh removed level-two and level-three sanctions.
On the other hand, former Mossad Director Meir Dagan travelled to Saudi Arabia in 2010 for secret talks on Iran’s nuclear program. Also in recent months, the handing over of the ownership of Tiran and Sana fir islands to Saudi Arabia has enabled Riyadh and Cairo to jointly monitor Israeli vessels’ traversing the Tiran Strait.
The Israeli regime is banking on young and ambitious Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Maybe that is why the former US ambassador to Tel Aviv said the designation of Mohammed bin Salman as the Saudi air to the throne amounted to an Israeli dream coming true. From the viewpoint of this American diplomat, bin Salman believes Riyadh and Tel Aviv have common interests and threats, which, at last, will be in the interest of Israel.
Bin Salman stands ready to return Israeli-Saudi relations back to normal within the framework of the implementation of an Arab peace plan. Meanwhile, one should not forget the role of transregional players, including the US. American President Donald Trump, during his first trip to the Middle East, spoke of the possibility of a new level of cooperation which would pave the way for more security and welfare in the region and across the world.
Bin Salman’s secret trip to Israel ushers in a new era of cordial relations that Trump had spoken of. Still, it remains to be seen whether Saudi-Israeli close relations will be conducive to a permanent and strategic agreement or will just be a transient alliance aimed at countering a common threat called Iran.
All in all, the Saudis, who have claimed to be advocates of the cause of Palestine and still do, have broken the taboo of having relations with the Israeli regime at this juncture and have no reservations about having ties with Tel Aviv, secretly or openly, within the framework of scenarios such as Iranophobia and countering the resistance front.