Should Diplomatic Relations Between Israel and Saudi Arabia Be Established?

Written by Philip Wendkos on . Posted in Op-Ed

Imagine Israeli men and women shopping in the bazaars and souks (marketplaces) of Al-Taif and Al-Riyadh, mingling with Saudis and other Arabs. It is entirely possible that friendly interaction between these nations can occur.

With Iran’s growing antagonistic stance with respect to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, it is logical for Saudi Arabia to establish diplomatic relations with Israel. Israel would benefit militarily as well by expanding its friendship with other Muslim countries in the Middle East. Jordan and Egypt have already established diplomatic ties with Israel.

Such a relationship would also be mutually advantageous in the areas of trade and engineering, with investment by Saudis in Israeli firms and Israelis investment in Saudi businesses. Another mutual benefit for these nations would be the interaction and sharing of physicians at King Khalid University Hospital in Saudi Arabia and Tel Hashomer Hospital in Israel.

Regional peace could also be furthered by such a move. A strong coalition that includes Israel could be efficacious in forming a bastion against Iran and Syria. The United States and its allies would likely look favorably upon a stronger military alliance against Shiite extremism aided and abetted by Iran. If a rapprochement takes place, all restrictions between Israelis and Saudis could be lifted.

Would the other Arab nations look upon this as anathema? I say no: the Arab world today is so disunited and weak that Saudi Arabia can make its own policies without criticism from Iraq, the Maghreb, or the Arab League.

This is the time for normalization of diplomatic relations, and if Israel reaches out to Saudi Arabia and the Emirates, perhaps Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, and the Maghreb will follow suit. Several Islamic nations in Africa have already cemented diplomatic relations with Israel.  It makes sense for Yemen, Iraq, and countries of the Maghreb to recognize the Jewish State because of their historic connections with the Jewish nation over the centuries.

Out of the realm of reality? Not at all. If there can be people like myself, who are loyal to the State of Israel and know Arabic and respect Arabs, it is not an impossibility.

Who was it who stipulated that, “If you will it, it is no dream?”

By Philip Wendkos

 Philip Wendkos worked as an Israeli and Arabic translator for the U.S. government. He is a frequent commenter to Arab News, a daily online newspaper out of Saudi Arabia. Phillip lives with his wife Carol in Leisure World in Rockville, Maryland.