מוחמד בן סלמאן ו סבאח אל אחמד אל ג'אבר א סבאח
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman
Photo: Reuters
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman

Israel's Gulf endgame: Full ties with Saudi Arabia

In-depth: Senior Israeli official says Jerusalem's normalization effort with Abu Dhabi is a crucial stepping stone in formalizing relations with the Gulf's most influential nation, and the UAE would not have agreed to the deal without Saudis' approval

Itamar Eichner |
Published: 08.16.20 , 13:08
The ink on the normalization agreement between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Israel has yet to dry but Israeli officials are already working on Jerusalem's endgame in the Gulf.
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  • A senior Israeli official told Ynet sister publication Yedioth Ahronoth that Israel's ultimate plan is to normalize relations with the Gulf's most influential nation – Saudi Arabia.
    מוחמד בן סלמאן ו סבאח אל אחמד אל ג'אבר א סבאחמוחמד בן סלמאן ו סבאח אל אחמד אל ג'אבר א סבאח
    Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman
    (Photo: Reuters)
    "We hope the breakthrough reached with the UAE will eventually lead to another one with Saudi Arabia. It has always been our big plan and top objective, today it's more of a possibility than ever," said the official, who is involved in the normalization process with Abu Dhabi.
    "It needs to be understood that the leader of the UAE Mohammed bin Zayed has very close ties with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and that any move to normalize relations with bin Zayed is undoubtedly coordinated with bin Salman," said the official. "Therefore, it should not be ruled out that eventually, relations with Saudi Arabia will also be normalized."
    Mossad Director Yossi Cohen is later this week expected head the Israeli delegation to Abu Dhabi, tasked with hammering out the details of the agreement, including the matters relating to security, economy, tourism and air traffic.
    יוסי כהןיוסי כהן
    Mossad Director Yossi Cohen
    (Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)
    Members of the delegation allegedly also include representatives from the Foreign Ministry, which has been excluded from formulating the peace deal with the UAE.
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has tasked National Security Advisor Meir Ben Shabat with preparing the needed paperwork for the talks in Abu Dhabi.
    Sources in Jerusalem say there is already an agreement with the UAE about flag carriers operating direct flights from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi.
    בניין עיריית תל אביב מואר בדגל איחוד האמירויותבניין עיריית תל אביב מואר בדגל איחוד האמירויות
    Tel Aviv city hall lit in the colors of UAE's flag
    (Photo: AFP)
    Washington is preparing to hold an official ceremony in honor of the deal being signed on the White House lawn, attended by Netanyahu, bin Zayed and U.S. President Donald Trump.
    A date for the ceremony has not yet been set, but it is expected to happen sometime around before the U.S. presidential election, scheduled for Tuesday, November 3, 2020.
    In the meantime, U.S. officials are trying to seize the momentum by trying to convince other Arab nations to sign normalization pacts with the Jewish state.
    At the top of that list is Bahrain, which has close ties to the UAE and is already in an unofficial relationship with Israel.
    Bahrain's Manama Bahrain's Manama
    Bahrain's Manama
    (Photo: Shutterstock)
    In fact, Cohen has apparently already held talks with the Prime Minister of Bahrain Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa on a possibility of signing a normalization agreement sometime in the near future.
    Other nations on the list include Oman, Sudan and Morocco.
    Trump's son-in-law and White House advisor Jared Kushner also told reporters over the weekend the president has succeeded in convincing Israel to sign a two-state solution with the Palestinians.
    According to Kushner, these actions will show Mideast leaders that Israel is serious about creating peace with their Arab neighbors.
    ראש הממשלה בנימין נתניהו עפ ג'ארד קושנרראש הממשלה בנימין נתניהו עפ ג'ארד קושנר
    White House senior advisor Jared Kushner and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meeting at the American Embassy in Jerusalem
    (Photo: Matty Stern/U.S. Embassy Jerusalem)
    He also said the agreement between Israel and the UAE will allow Emiratis to visit and pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, the third holiest site in Islam. "The agreement is a breakthrough for Muslims who wish to come in peace and pray at the al-Aqsa Mosque," Kushner told the Washington Post.
    "Direct flights between the two countries will facilitate pilgrimages to al-Aqsa, a victory for religious pluralism and a rejection of the false narrative - used by extremists to bolster their ranks - that the mosque is under attack."
    During an interview with CNBC, Kushner said that a normalization agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia is an "inevitability."

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