Saudi Arabia is so eager to establish diplomatic relations with Israel that it is prepared to sign off on almost any type of Israeli-Palestinian peace deal no matter how unfavorable to the Palestinians, according to Benjamin Netanyahu’s former security advisor.
Yaacov Nagel, who stepped down as the Israeli prime minister’s national security advisor earlier this year, said Riyadh was so keen to begin open cooperation with Israel against Iran that it “doesn’t care” what kind of deal is reached with the Palestinians.
“They just have to say there is an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, they don’t care, they don’t give a damn about what will be in the agreement,” Mr Nagel said. “They need to say there is an agreement in order to go for next steps.”
Mr Nagel’s comments come amid weeks of increasingly public signs that Israel and Saudi Arabia’s relationship is warming while tensions rise between Riyadh and Tehran.
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman enraged Iran by referring to the Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei as “new Hitler of the Middle East”. Tehran fired back that the ambitious young prince was “immature and weak-minded”.
Meanwhile, the first aid flights began to land in Yemen’s capital Sanaa on Saturday, after Saudi Arabia agreed to loosen a three-week blockade which the UN warned would lead to mass starvation.
Boris Johnson and others have urged Saudi Arabia to ease the blockade further to allow more food and supplies into the war-wracked country.
Saudi leaders have always shied away from making formal peace with Israel out of fear of a backlash by their own public and from across the Arab world, where Israel is still widely seen as an enemy.
But under Mr Nagel’s analysis, the current Saudi leadership under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is looking for any type of Israeli-Palestinian peace deal so it will have political cover for normalising relations with Israel.
His theory raises the prospect that Saudi Arabia could try to force the Palestinians into accepting a deal, even an unfavorable one, when Donald Trump lays out his expected peace proposals early next year.
Unconfirmed media reports have suggested that Prince Mohammed had already begun pressuring Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, into accepting a US-brokered peace deal.