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  • Writer's pictureDahlia Foundation

A Saudi-Israel deal could dramatically reshape the Middle East — but don’t expect it anytime soon


  • A deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia could dramatically shape the geopolitics of the Middle East.

  • But numerous barriers remain to official normalization, which is a major goal of the Biden administration’s foreign policy and one his team is trying to achieve during the president’s current term.

Anticipation and rumors are growing about the potential normalization of relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel – two of America’s most important allies in the Middle East whose ties have never formally existed.

Saudi Arabia doesn’t recognize Israel as a state and has refused to do so since the latter’s independence in 1948. But after decades of tension, recent years saw discrete but growing cooperation between the two.


The shared threat perception of Iran, a longtime common adversary, has brought the two closer together in terms of coordination and intelligence sharing, according to numerous reports and admissions by Israeli officials.

Saudi Arabia has also allowed Israeli airlines to fly over its territory in recent years, and Israel officials reported that Saudi Arabia received help from Israeli cybersecurity firms to fend off certain cyberattacks. The rise of non-state actors and the perceived threat of political Islamists, particularly in the wake of the Arab Spring, also contributed to a sense of shared interests among Gulf states and Israel.

And just on Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Riyadh is offering to restart its funding of the Palestinian Authority in order to gain its leader Mahmoud Abbas’ support for open relations with Israel.

A deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia could dramatically reshape the geopolitics of the Middle East.

But major barriers remain in the way of official normalization, which is a major goal of the Biden administration’s foreign policy and one his team is trying to achieve during the president’s current term.

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