The normalization train: a dispute between the King of Saudi Arabia and his son


The American “Wall Street Journal” revealed that there are disagreements within the Saudi royal family, especially between Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz and his son, Crown Prince, regarding normalization with Israel.

The newspaper said, in a report, that King Salman was “stunned” when US President Donald Trump announced the Emirati-Israeli agreement on August 13, while bin Salman did not appear surprised by the move.

The same newspaper quoted observers as saying that bin Salman welcomes this step, which would override what the prince deems an intractable conflict that prevents entering into a commercial partnership with Israel, and also prevents it from taking advantage of it to stand against Iran.

The Wall Street Journal quoted Saudi sources as saying that bin Salman preferred not to inform his father of the planned agreement between the UAE and Israel, for fear that the king would obstruct the agreement, after he knew that he would not present much to push towards a solution to the Palestinian issue, as the king’s refusal would impede The whole agreement.

The newspaper said that the king was angry at how little was obtained in exchange for the Emirati agreement; He directed his foreign minister to reaffirm the Kingdom’s commitment to the establishment of a Palestinian state.

The newspaper talked about the Trump administration’s pressure to bring together Saudi Arabia, Washington’s main allies in the region, and Iran’s opponents with Israel, with the aim of enhancing the exchange of intelligence information and easing Israel’s isolation, especially with Washington’s trend towards reducing its military presence in the region.

The “Wall Street Journal” said that for nearly thirty years, the Kingdom maintained frequent secret and informal contacts with Israel, mostly related to security issues, especially with regard to Iran, and at the same time it maintained its public positions in support of the Palestinian cause.

In contrast to King Salman, the newspaper believes that his crown prince is showing an “extraordinary openness” towards Israel, especially in issues related to security and trade. The Wall Street Journal also quotes foreign advisers and diplomats that Mohammed bin Salman suggested in October 2017, upon announcing plans to build the city of Neom, that Israel play a major role in the development of Neom, with potential investments in biotechnology and cybersecurity.

She explained that bin Salman informed Jared Kushner on his recent visit to Saudi Arabia that the king would not accept his proposal on concluding a normalization agreement between Saudi Arabia and Israel. In light of the king’s refusal, Prince Mohammed bin Salman told Kushner that the most he could do at the moment was to push Bahrain to sign an agreement to normalize relations with Israel.

In the context, political analyst in the newspaper “Yediot Aharonot” Nahum Barnea pointed out that in Saudi Arabia there is a dispute between the crown prince “who is pushing for normalization, which would improve his position in the United States, which was damaged by the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi” and the king “who placed a veto. He refuses to back down from the Saudi peace initiative. ”

According to Yedioth Ahronoth, Israeli estimates indicate that Saudi Arabia will wait until after the US elections in November, before deciding whether to normalize its relations with Israel; Meanwhile, there is “optimism” in Israel about the possibility of reaching an imminent normalization agreement with Saudi Arabia. Senior Israeli government officials said, “The question is not whether Saudi Arabia will sign an agreement with Israel, but rather when.”

“The odds are that the Saudi authorities will take practical steps towards normalization with Israel if there is progress on the Israeli-Palestinian level,” Yediot Aharonot stated.


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