The Islamic Republic’s biggest adversaries in the Middle East, Israel and Saudi Arabia are reportedly in secret talks to start official economic ties, according to the Times of London.
The talk aim to establish incremental economic relations, but any such ties would be a seismic change on the political landscape of the region. If Saudi Arabia agrees to such a step, this could be a strong sign to other Arab and Sunni nations to think of putting aside decades of boycotts and anti-Israel diplomatic posturing and perhaps start their own attempts to break the ice.
According to Times of Israel, officials close to Saudi Arabia have dismissed the report, saying that it is nothing but wishful thinking on the part of the Trump administration.
The London Times says that this plan calls for an opening for Israeli businesses to operate in the Persian Gulf Arab countries and perhaps for the Israeli airline El-Al to establish flights to Saudi Arabia.
In the last two years there have several reports in the media about alleged secret contacts between Israel and Saudi Arabia, mainly to coordinate efforts against Iran. But the new twist could be related to President Donald Trump’s senior advisor and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who reportedly has close relations with Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi deputy crown prince and perhaps this has giving an impetus to closer ties with Israel, aimed at paving the way for a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace.
The Times of London also mentions the possibility that the recent Saudi punitive actions against Qatar are related to Israel. If Qataris failed to heed Saudi calls for cutting ties with Hamas, this could have triggered the angry reaction by Riyadh.
In a commentary published by CNBC, an analyst, Jake Novak had offered the same explanation about the Qatar crisis on June 6. Saudi Arabia’s insistence that Qatar is supporting terrorists in the region, could have well meant the rich kingdom’s support for Hamas.
Israel has always been keen to see normalization with Arab states as the best way to push the Palestinians to agree to a peace arrangement acceptable for Israel. President Trump has also sounded optimistic that a breakthrough can be possible. This would not be too palatable for the Palestinians, who would be cornered to agree to terms perhaps more favorable to Israel.