Israel and Saudi Arabia: Best frenemies forever?
The Jewish state also has unparalleled influence over US foreign policy, which made sure its move towards Saudi Arabia wouldn’t go unnoticed by the international community.
“No doubt about it, rumors, reports about cooperation, secret meetings [between Israel and Saudi Arabia] started to appear before second Lebanon War in 2006 when it became clear that Iran is to become a major player here, in our immediate region, but also in the Gulf,” Eyal Zisser, Dean of Humanities at Tel-Aviv university, told RT.
But the cooperation between Israel and Saudi Arabia may be hampered by the Arab state’s support for the Palestinians both in Gaza and the West Bank.
Just recently the Saudis granted another $10 million to UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, which was preceded by a $200 million donation to Palestinian infrastructure projects.
The “ambiguity” of the Saudi policies is a likely obstacle to forming a firm alliance between the two states, Zisser believes.
“The result is that on the one hand you can see them cooperate with Israel when it comes to Iran, on the other hand they have close contacts with [Palestinian] Hamas. On the one hand they initiate the Arab Peace Initiative, on the other hand they support indirectly al-Qaeda,” he explained.
There’s no unity in Israel on whether closer ties with Saudi Arabia are needed with many wondering if the Jewish state is “shooting itself in a foot by forming an alliance with a country that supports its enemies,” Slier reported.
But, despite their differences, Israel and Saudi Arabia share views on some of the most pressing regional issues as they both want regime change in Syria, with Saudi Arabia strongly backing the rebels; both see Iran as their main geopolitical rival and want to neutralize the Islamic state; and both stand united in their backing of the military government in Egypt, which has taken a strong stance against the Islamists.
Saudi Arabia has already signalled it is ready to go its own way if US policies continue to undermine the country’s interests in the region. Since US politicians began cutting off aid to Egypt after Islamist president Mohamed Morsi was deposed, Saudi Arabia has given Egypt three times the US annual contribution – some $5 billion, to make up for losses elsewhere.