Brief: The Truth About Saudi Normalizing Ties With Israel

Even if things go smoothly, a reconciliation is a long way off.

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Editor’s Note: The following is a new content type we are calling Briefs. They are real-time updates on the world’s most pressing geopolitical events, broken down into a reader-friendly format. Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns. Background: A few weeks ago, Israel normalized relations with Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates through a U.S.-brokered agreement. But Saudi Arabia has remained quiet – a curious development considering it is the unofficial ideological and political leader of the Gulf monarchies and a staunch regional ally of Washington. What Happened: During an Oct. 15 webinar for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said Saudi Arabia had “always envisioned that normalization [with Israel] would happen.” It was a rare indication that Saudi Arabia was contemplating warmer ties with the “other side” in the seemingly endless Arab-Israeli conflict. Farhan noted that the rapprochement between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain would help bring Saudi Arabia and Israel to the negotiating table but stipulated that normalization would depend on a peace plan between Israel and the Palestinian territories. Bottom Line: Translated from diplomatic doublespeak, Farhan is saying that even if things go smoothly, […]

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