Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Palestinian Authority
The story of Saudi blogger Mohammed Saud, who arrived in Israel as part of the Foreign Ministry delegation, is yet to drop out of the headlines.
This story actually reveals the depth of secret Saudi/Israeli relations, Saudi support for President Trump’s deal of the century and the controversial rifts between the Saudis and Palestinians.
Although there is no official relationship between Saudi Arabia and Israel, relations between the two countries began to form behind the scenes as far back as 2002, when King Abdullah published his political initiative to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict known as the Saudi Initiative. In 2015, some official contacts, were nurtured between Saudi and Israeli personalities. The catalyst for these moves was the two countries’ joint effort to fight the Iranian nuclear program, as Iran became a joint enemy of Saudi Arabia and Israel. In recent years, Saudis have visited Israel and even reported on the visit of the Mossad head, Meir Dagan, to Saudi Arabia for a two-way coordination meeting on the Iranian issue.
Over the past two years, relations between the countries have reached new highs, following reports of a meeting between the Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
If the concept of the unification of moderate Sunni states against Iran has been reported, then there has been a change in the last two years and this concept has lost its meaning. Today, the Middle East is divided into two camps: the first includes Turkey, Qatar, Iran and Sudan with Jordan recently joining, the second includes Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt, all receiving support and assistance from the US and Israel who fear a Saudi invasion of Iran.
It is undoubtedly the hostility between Iran and the Saudis that has brought about closer and warming relations between Israel and the Saudis. Iran is actively involved in measures attacking the Saudis, including in cyberspace. In 2012, a virus called “Shimon” was reported against Aramco, the state-owned Saudi oil company. The virus caused much damage to Saudi Arabia. In addition, Iranian hackers had reportedly hacked into Saudi Arabian bank accounts of some Saudi princes revealing the amount of money they held in their bank accounts.
As for the relationship between the Saudis and the Palestinians, the Saudis have ceased funding the PA for many years for many different reasons. The primary reason is the ongoing conflict between the Fatah movement of Mahmoud Abbas and the Hamas terrorist organization. No end of conferences and mediation efforts were invested between the two sides with Egyptian and Qatari mediation in order to formulate a national reconciliation, but without success. The Saudis do not like the fact that Hamas took over in Gaza nor the Hamas ideology associated with the Muslim Brotherhood’s opposition to the rule of the Saudi royal family. The second reason is the rising corruption in the Palestinian Authority. The Saudis have resented the fact that their financial aid has usually gone to Fatah officials and does not reach those who really need it.
In recent years, the criticism of the Palestinians against the Saudis has intensified especially because of the Saudi support of the “Deal of the Century”. Many Palestinians have accused the royal family of treason, burning the king’s pictures and images of the Crown Prince during demonstrations. Today, there is a virtual war between the Saudis and Palestinians on social networks, which culminated in Saud’s visit to Israel and the slanderous and physical attacks on him during his visit to the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Old City. The warm relations between the Palestinian Authority, Iran and Qatar are additional reasons for the ire of the Saudis towards the Palestinians, defining them as enemies of the kingdom.
However, as of today, the relationship between the Saudis and the Palestinian Authority is at an all-time low especially after the economic workshop in Bahrain and the background of Israeli ministerial visits to Gulf countries.