Peace with the Saudis? 'They're waiting for Biden'

Expert on international relations explains why Saudi Arabia chose not to join the other states that established ties with Israel.

Nitsan Keidar ,

Saudi King Salman
Saudi King Salman
Reuters

A senior member of the Saudi royal family and a former intelligence chief this week criticized Israel and said normalization with the Jewish state is conditional on resolving the Palestinian issue.

Dr. Yoav Kapshuk, an expert on international relations from the Kinneret College on the Sea of Galilee, spoke to Arutz Sheva on how the Saudi regime views the issue of relations with Israel.

"The statement by the senior Saudi official represents the traditional position of the Gulf states and Saudi Arabia in particular, that if there is no significant progress in Israeli-Palestinian relations, no official ties will be established with Israel. The Palestinian context has always hovered over this issue, but of course today the reality is very different because there is Iran and there is a common interest for the parties in the geopolitical sense," he explained.

"That statement by the senior official is connected to King Salman's position opposing any official settlement between Israel and Saudi Arabia as long as the situation with the Palestinians remains as it is. On the other hand, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman takes a different approach. This dispute is very interesting."

Currently, it seems that the disputes at the top prevent the establishment of official relations between Israel and the kingdom. However, Dr. Kapshuk estimates that “the agreements with Bahrain and the UAE were a kind of sponsorship on behalf of the Saudi Crown Prince. I have no doubt that Saudi Arabia gave its approval to these agreements."

In his opinion, "Joe Biden's entry into the White House will play a role here. In the meeting between Netanyahu and the Saudi Crown Prince about a month ago, they may have tried to reach a recognition agreement while Trump is in office. According to reports from Saudi Arabia, the Crown Prince decided to wait for the new president in Biden and it is interesting how he will treat the situation. On the one hand he has the legacy of the Democrats, and from this place he will not push for a deal. On the other hand, the agreements between Israel and the Gulf could be something that Biden would like to strengthen. It certainly has something to do with the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Will Biden want to resume negotiations and press the parties or go elsewhere. It is difficult to assess how everything will develop."



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