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US-brokered talks yielded ‘promises’ from Israel and Saudi Arabia to improve relations!

Saudi Arabia is engaging in talks with Israel on economic ties and ‘security arrangements,’ as it adjusts to shifting attitudes in the Middle East. The kingdom has identified growing support among young Saudis for establishing ties and is moving toward advancing cooperation. The Jewish state is no longer universally seen as an undisputed enemy by many Saudis, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Officials in Israel and Saudi Arabia say it is not a matter of if, but rather when, the two countries publicly improve their relations. The two countries do not have official diplomatic relations, but covert ties have developed in recent years. Saudi Arabia has increasingly seen Israel as a strategic partner in the fight against Iranian influence in the region.

Biden administration is helping to broker an agreement for commercial planes from Israel to have expanded access to Saudi airspace, the New York Times reports. Currently, only flights between Tel Aviv and the United Arab Emirates fly over Saudi Arabia, passing over the northern tip of the country. The Saudis are looking to gain control of two strategic Red Sea islands.

There are also advantages for Washington, which is attempting to mend ties with Riyadh. During his election campaign, US President Joe Biden promised to label Saudi Arabia a ‘pariah’ for the murder of writer Jamal Khashoggi, which US intelligence believes was ordered by Prince Mohammed. An improvement in relations with Israel might soften Biden’s condemnation of a meeting with the prince.

The US is hoping for a Biden visit to Israel and Saudi Arabia, which would advance the interests of all three countries. Prince Khalid bin Salman recently visited Washington, where he told reporters privately that polls showed a shift in favor of diplomatic relations with Israel among Saudis under 30. Riyadh has said that it will only normalize relations with Israel following the creation of a Palestinian state.

Secret talks are underway between Saudi Arabia and Israel to establish diplomatic ties that would involve the fate of the Red Sea islands Tiran and Sanafir. According to Israeli and Saudi officials, the most probable initial step will be an agreement allowing planes to fly over Israel and Saudi Arabia as part of security negotiations. Official diplomatic connections may still be years away, but hidden developments may hasten the process.

According to the conditions of the Israel-Egypt peace treaty, a Saudi seizure of security control of the Red Sea islands requires Israeli permission. According to sources, the three nations are mulling a plan for the international force to withdraw and Saudi soldiers to take over. The monarchy did not sign the Washington-brokered Abraham Accords in 2020, as the US and Israel had planned, but is said to have approved Bahrain’s normalization with Israel.

For the first time, Saudi Arabia’s largest sovereign wealth fund has authorized Jared Kushner’s investment in Israeli enterprises. The fund has made a $2 billion investment with Kushner’s Affinity Partners. Then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Mossad head Yossi Cohen were believed to have visited Saudi Arabia in late 2020 to meet with the crown prince. It was the first high-level encounter between an Israeli and a Saudi leader is known to have occurred.


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