To get a measure of the rapid progress in warming relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia, you have to go back a little more than six months.
Netanyahu revealed: "Saudi Crown Prince bin Salman contributed to the achievement of the Abraham Accords" // From Facebook
Saudi Arabia made a surprising move, which shocked the Middle East and shocked the Americans. It renewed relations with Iran with China's mediation. Suddenly, the US seems to be evaporating from the region, while the China-Iran-Russia axis is becoming dominant, if not quite ruling the Middle East.
It also looks like a blow to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In the period leading up to the elections, and during the formation of the government, he openly presented a vision of peace with Saudi Arabia and normalization of relations with it, a dramatic move that expands and strengthens the Abraham Accords.
Biden and bin Salman. The Saudis are no longer waiting, Photo: AFP
But the Biden administration boycotted the "far-right government." It seemed that the Saudis, who were on hold, understood that the third point in normalizing relations with Israel, the United States, was out of the picture. They waited two and a half months, and then made their move toward Iran and China.
Here and there there was optimistic talk that Saudi Arabia had not closed the door on peace with Israel. Prime Minister Netanyahu believed that restoring relations with Iran focused on an agreement around Yemen. So the breakthrough in what appears to be an American initiative, and the optimistic atmosphere that prevailed during the UN General Assembly, are the biggest surprise of the year.
Compared to what has been known for more than 20 years as the Saudi Peace Initiative, centered on a Palestinian state more or less within the '67 borders, this is a historic turning point. Various sources have argued over the past week that no matter what concessions Israel makes, the Palestinians do not get a state; But even at this stage, it is clear that Saudi Arabia is not waiting for the Palestinians, who will certainly reject any initiative, in the spirit of the attacks by Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, who accuses the Saudis of treason.
Was Netanyahu right all along?
The Saudi kingdom will continue its quest for normalization with Israel, with or without the Palestinians. It turns out that the Saudis are taking care of themselves, and the rapprochement with Israel is more necessary for them than a solution for the Palestinians.
Netanyahu at an event marking Israel's accession to the US visa waiver program, photo: Haim Goldberg/Flash90
Moreover, despite the condition of an agreement with Israel in exchange for a military agreement with the United States, the Saudis do not seem to be waiting. After all, the airlift of ministers to Riyadh has already begun - Haim Katz, and now Shlomo Karai. At this rate, there is no reason why we should not see a visit by Prime Minister Netanyahu to the kingdom, followed by a royal prostration at Al-Aqsa.
Bin Salman knows how to pray no less than Erdogan, who has already announced his plans. There is a feeling, perhaps mistaken, that the Saudis and Israelis are moving forward together independently of the Americans. The Americans published an assessment that Iran is two weeks away from nuclear capability, but their trend is to reduce tensions and contain, while Israel and Saudi Arabia are engaged in deterrence and prevention.
The mutual interest of the two countries is different, and the result proves that Netanyahu's perception all these years has been correct. In other words, it is possible to make peace with the Saudis without establishing a Palestinian state, without withdrawing from territories and without evacuating settlements. Who dreamed of this?
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