A Saudi Arabian lobbyist in the US has called for “a collaborative alliance” between Riyadh and Jerusalem based on regional and economic interests, citing “a historic opportunity” for a new era of peace and prosperity.
Salman al-Ansari, president of the recently established Saudi American Public Relations Affairs Committee in Washington DC, wrote in The Hill on Tuesday that Israel is uniquely situated to assist its neighbor in its economic development in the coming years.
Israel, he noted, was “one of the most sophisticated and technologically advanced countries in the field of mining,” as well as “a world leader in the water engineering industry” — both matters of significant interest to the developing Arab Kingdom.
Israel and Saudi Arabia have no formal ties. However, it has long been rumored that the two countries have held clandestine discussions on matters of regional security, and talk of warming relations has proliferated in recent months.
Perhaps the chief incentive for such a thaw is the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers — a deal that leaves Riyadh concerned over its position in the Middle East.
Al-Ansari stressed that the two nations share security concerns, with both “facing constant threats from extremist groups that are directly supported by the totalitarian government of Iran.”
Israel and Saudi Arabia, he argued, could serve as “the new twin pillars of regional stability,” and together could help foster peace and development throughout the Middle East.
He urged leaders on both sides not to “stifle” the opportunity for both countries to develop these mutual goals.
Recent months have seen various signs of the change in tone between Saudi Arabia and Israel.
A media campaign in Saudi Arabia in August sought to combat anti-Semitism in the kingdom, in a possible effort to prepare public opinion for deepened relations with Israel.
In late July, a retired Saudi general visited Israel, heading a delegation of academics and businessmen seeking to encourage discussion of the Saudi-led Arab Peace Initiative.
Meanwhile a former Israeli minister, who met with the visiting Saudi delegation, said peace between the nations was very much “in the cards.”