Saudi Prince Says Israel May Be Potential 'Ally', Needs to Solve Conflict With Palestinians First
11:24 GMT 04.03.2022 (Updated: 11:25 GMT 04.03.2022)
Saudi Arabia and Israel do not have diplomatic relations, however, various media reports have suggested that Tel Aviv and Riyadh maintain unofficial ties, specifically to counter their common adversary – Iran.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has suggested that Israel might one day become Saudi Arabia's ally. He said that Riyadh does not see Tel Aviv as an "enemy" and that many of the two countries' interests overlap.
The crown prince noted that one condition must be met before Saudi Arabia and Israel can become allies:
"We have to solve some issues before we get to that […] For us, we hope that the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians is solved", he said in an interview with The Atlantic.
Right now the two nations do not have formal diplomatic relations and Riyadh has insisted for decades that they can only be established after the conflict with the Palestinians is resolved.
Yet, in the past media reports have suggested that Israel and Saudi Arabia maintain unofficial channels of communication, namely to counter Iran, which has rows with both countries. Additionally, Saudi Arabia allows Israeli aircraft to cross its airspace. One of the said media reports claimed that representatives of the two countries met unofficially in November 2020. Riyadh later denied this allegation.
At the same time, two of Saudi Arabia's closest allies, Bahrain and the UAE, decided to normalise ties with Israel the same year, signing the US-brokered Abraham Accords and establishing cooperation with Tel Aviv in various areas, including security. The Palestinians condemned the move as a "stab in the back" because it was not supposed to happen prior to the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In addition, both Israel and Saudi Arabia are two key allies of the US in the Middle East. Washington supplies both with weapons and consults them on regional security matters.