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The new triangle of allies: Israel-USA & Saudi Arabia

Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot recently gave an unprecedented interview to a Saudi news site, in which he asserted that Israel and Saudi Arabia are in full agreement about Iran.

Saudi Arabia currently does not have official diplomatic relations with Israel and abides by an Arab League boycott on trade with the Jewish state.

Since the Arab Spring erupted, and more especially during the past year, Israel and Saudi Arabia have drawn significantly closer, owing to their common interests or common enemies : Hezbollah & Iran. Saudi Arabia’s fear of its enemies is indeed pulling it closer to Israel, but it is limited in its ability to manage these collaborations, at least publicly, as long as the Palestinian problem remains unresolved. And in September, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS), was reported to have made a secret visit to Israel.

In mid-November, Gadi Eizenkot, the chief of general staff of Israel’s defense forces, landed a media coup. He described, in broad terms, how he viewed his country’s relations with Iran on one side and Saudi Arabia on the other. He did so in an interview with the Saudi Arabian website Elaph.

Eizenkot explained that Israel was prepared to share information as well as intelligence material with moderate Arab states in order to counter Iran. He answered the question of whether Israel had already shared intelligence with Saudi Arabia by quoting from a letter of intent: “We are prepared to share information when necessary. We have many common interests.” He did, however, make one thing crystal clear: Iran is viewed by Israel as the “greatest threat to the region.”

 In other significant comments, Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz this week admitted to having discreet contacts with the kingdom. “We have ties that are indeed partly covert with many Muslim and Arab countries, and usually [we are] the party that is not ashamed. It’s the other side that is interested in keeping the ties quiet.

 It appears that both countries are being particularly careful about communicating mutual rapprochement through unofficial channels. The fact that Eizenkot granted Elaphan interview can be seen as evidence of a deliberately defensive PR strategy

Saudi Arabia “doesn’t give a damn” about the Palestinian cause, a former Israeli security advisor has said, as long as it can cement a deal with Israel against Iran.

The Kingdom is willing to accept almost any kind of Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s former defence minister Yaacov Nagal said in an interview with The Telegraph.

However, the Saudi foreign minister stated in a television interview not long ago that his country does not maintain ties with Israel.He also reiterated the traditional Saudi demand for Israel to enter into regional negotiations on the basis of the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative. Publicly, Riyadh’s position is that Israel must abide by the 1967 Green Line for any such negotiations to take place.

This week, Israeli players have been denied visas to participate in a speed chess championship hosted by Saudi Arabia this week, a vice-president of the World Chess Federation (Fide) has said.

Establishing diplomatic relations would please the charismatic warmonger US President Donald Trump, who counts the two countries as among his strongest allies against the perceived threat from Tehran.While the US seeks to unite Saudi Arabia and other Arab states with Israel against Iran, many Middle Eastern countries are reluctant to get too close to the Israelis without progress on the Palestinian issue.Israelis and Saudis  likewise believe that a reduction in American influence in the Middle East left a power vacuum that risks being filled by enemies. Other overlapping policies include the designation of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, as well as opposition to Qatari meddling in the region.

 

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