As the UAE and Bahrain prepared to sign a deal to normalize diplomatic relations with Israel this summer, Saudi Arabia was quietly urging them on, according to a report in The Guardian.
For several months before the deals were signed at the White House, the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, had been laying out his rationale for a pact that would overturn regional policies towards long-term foe Iran.
According to The Guardian, while a pact between Israel and Saudi Arabia is growing closer, Prince Mohammed is unlikely to give Trump what would be his biggest foreign policy achievement before the US election, three sources close to the royal court said.
Instead, the Kingdom is likely to continue its role of urging regional allies across the line – effectively in its name. Sudan and Oman are firm favorites to strike a deal before the year is out but Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are likely to bide their time and hold out for bigger prizes.
Addressing the United Nations general assembly on Wednesday, Saudi King Salman stuck to the script of the 2002 Saudi-sponsored Arab Peace Initiative, which had been seen as a template until the past few years.
However, according to The Guardian, the Saudi Crown Prince views the region through a different lens to his predecessors, seeing Iranian expansionism as a bigger threat to stability than the seven-decade failure to bring about a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs. According to two sources familiar with Prince Mohammed’s thinking, his views have been greatly influenced by Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, since the two met in 2017.
“Kushner was just as transactional as his father-in-law,” said one Saudi source. “He was all about user pays; if you back a cause, or a person, they need to have your back. It was a language MBS understood and he wasted little time applying it to new Saudi positions on Palestine and Lebanon, both of which had become a never-ending burden.”
US President Donald Trump told reporters last week that many more countries are on the way to reaching new peace deals in the Middle East.
Asked if he expected Saudi Arabia to follow suit, Trump said, "I do. I spoke with the king of Saudi Arabia." He added the move would come "at the right time."
The President recently said he expected Saudi Arabia to join the Israel-UAE deal. A senior member of the Saudi royal family later stressed that Saudi Arabia’s price for normalizing relations with Israel is the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.
King Salman reiterated that position during a recent conversation with Trump, saying there would be no normalization with Israel without Palestinian statehood.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)