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Saudi Arabia still hesitant to have open links with Israel

December 17, 2018 at 9:24 am

Palestinians burn an Israeli flag and portraits of Trump, Mohammed bin Salman, Avigdor Lieberman and Netanyahu during a tent city protest where Palestinians demand the right to return to their homeland, at the Israel-Gaza border, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, April 13, 2018. [Ashraf Amra/Apa Images]

Despite maintaining relations under the radar, Saudi Arabia is still reluctant to have open and public links with Israel, Yedioth Ahronoth has reported.

The Israeli newspaper pointed out that Riyadh has recently lost the right to host a world chess tournament after it refused to grant visas to Israeli participants. This, it said, suggests that relations between the two sides are still complex and any rapprochement will remain under the radar.

“Israel-Saudi relations have improved significantly in recent years because of the common security interest to neutralise Iran’s expansion. The informal association between Riyadh and Tel Aviv is in its infancy and conditioned on the current geopolitical reality that may change.”

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Any sudden improvement in Iran-Saudi relations, added Yedioth Ahronoth, will weaken the chances of a growing relationship between Riyadh and Israel. However, it pointed out that Saudi Arabia’s relationship with Israel has been strengthened by the US administration under President Donald Trump. Washington regards Riyadh and Tel Aviv as essential partners for achieving the US foreign policy goal of restraining the regime in Tehran.

The newspaper stressed that, despite the shared interests, Riyadh is still reluctant to deal with Israel overtly, mainly due to the ongoing stalemate in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

A Hamas-bloc member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Mahmoud Zahar, condemned some Arab regimes recently for rushing to normalise relations with Israel in public, pointing to a decline in support for the Palestinian people.