1. Saudi getting closer to Israel
Saudi- Israel ties have been growing in recent years and since the take over of Mohammed Bin Salman as ruler of Saudi Arabia, growth of relations has accelerated. The most recent development highlighting the coming down of a historical barrier between the nations is the latest comments of the Muft of Saudi Arabia, who said while answering a question on a television program that fighting against Israel was inappropriate and said Hamas was a “terror organization” in reply to a question regarding July’s anger across the Israeli-occupied West Bank when Israel shut Al-Aqsa Mosque. Israeli communications minister has welcomed these comments, saying: “We congratulate Abdul Aziz Al-Sheikh, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, as well as the head of Ulema (Islamic scholars) for his fatwa forbidding the fight against the Jews and forbidding to kill them.” The minister also invited the mufti to visit Israel, which would be another stepping stone in relations.
2. Iran bringing the two nations together
The role of Iran in bringing Israel and Saudi Arabia is undeniable, as it has served as a source of common interest for the two nations. Iran’s opposing role to Saudi in the Yemen war has been the biggest factor in helping Saudi put its differences with Israel aside. In May, Iran even acknowledged this, accusing Riyadh of “sowing division” in the region to Israel’s advantage after the kingdom hosted summits of Gulf and Arab leaders to rally support against the Islamic republic. Saudi Arabia has “continued to sow division between Islamic countries and in the region, which is the wish of the Zionist regime,” foreign ministry spokesman Seyed Abbas Mousavi said, adding “We see the attempts by Saudi Arabia to rally neighbouring and Arab countries against Iran as the continuation of futile attempts by America and the Zionist regime.” The latest source of tension in the Persian Gulf is set to maintain and even strengthen ties between Saudi and Israel.
3. Israel to construct railway connection through Gulf
Israel is set to take advantage of its improved relations with Saudi Arabia, as the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently revealed details of a proposed railway project that will connect the port of Haifa to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Unveiled in the UAE by Israeli Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz the project was introduced as being a way to “promote regional peace” and link the Mediterranean Sea to the Arabian Gulf to allow for increased trade and improve local economies. The ministry claimed that this initiative “will create shorter, faster, cheaper and safer regional trade routes and will contribute to the strengthening of the Jordanian, Palestinian, Saudi, Gulf and even the Iraqi economies in the future.” This project is a clear sign that Israel is here to stay, and ready to immediately gain the economic and geopolitical fruits of their strengthening relationship with Saudi Arabia.
4. Correlation with warming US-Saudi ties
US Israeli ties have followed the same trend of US Saudi ties, although Saudi’s relationship with the US goes a long time back, due to its oil sales, as well as geopolitical importance. Nevertheless, the latest nuclear worries with Iran coming from Washington, as well as the tensions in the Persian Gulf, have created a scenario where US Saudi ties are stronger than ever. In fact, despite opposition towards Saudi’s treatment of Khashoggi, The Senate failed Monday to override President Donald Trump’s veto of resolutions to block arms sales to Saudi Arabia, demonstrating that despite bipartisan concern over the United States’ relationship with Saudi Arabia, the majority of Senate Republicans view the kingdom as a key counterbalance to Iran’s influence in the Middle East. This has impacted Israel and Saudi’s openness to one another and served the same geopolitical interests.
5. Saudi condemns Israeli demolition
Despite the rapid strengthening of Saudi-Israel relations, Saudi Arabia has not given all leeway to Israel, and on Tuesday condemned Israel’s demolition of Palestinian homes on the edge of Jerusalem a day earlier, urging world powers to “stop this aggression.” “The cabinet strongly condemned and denounced authorities of the Israeli occupation for the demolition of dozens of houses in East Jerusalem,” said a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency. Israel has come under fire from the Palestinians and the international community over the demolition of 12 residential buildings in an area known as Wadi al-Hummus, which is part of the southern Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sur Baher. The area falls just outside of Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries and is part of the Palestinian Authority-controlled area of the West Bank. Saudi Arabia’s condemnation goes against the recent trend of strengthening relations with Israel but should not reverse the trend due to the geopolitical importance of the relation being too large. It will, however, act as an obstacle, that will slow down negotiations.