Following reports last week in "Globes" that Israeli businesspeople are routinely granted special visas to enter Saudi Arabia with Israeli passports, outgoing Ministry of Defense political-military bureau chief Zohar Palti has reinforced the feeling that the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia is not far off.
Palti said, "Until five years ago, אhe Iranians mainly only had Hezbollah. In the past five years, they have succeeded in positioning themselves, and threatening Israel in Yemen, Iraq, and Syria …. The answer is the Abraham Accords. I'm sure that Saudi Arabia will also join soon."
Palti stepped down as Ministry of Defense political-military bureau chief two months ago and is now an International Fellow at the Washington Institute. As political-military bureau chief since 2017, he was in the inner-circle of decision makers and was aware of contacts with countries with which Israel did not have diplomatic relations.
Reacting to Palti's comments, a senior Saudi source told "Globes," "Israel is always in a hurry. It will happen when the conditions are right. It's not certain that there will soon be a diplomatic agreement but it is clear that in other areas - trade, economics, sport and more, there is no problem with the Israeli-Saudi connection and it is clear that everywhere that interests meet we are working together and we already don't need any sort of intermediary."
Following "Globes" revelations about direct Israel-Saudi Arabia business contacts, Israeli government ministries and the Gulf-Israel Business Council have been inundated with enquiries from Israeli businesspeople and companies. At the same time, business ties between Israel and other countries without diplomatic ties have been boosted.
Such ties have been taking place for years but the major difference now is that they are in the open since the Abraham Accords rather than under the table. The establishment of Israeli ties with the UAE and Bahrain took place in coordination with and the blessing of Saudi Arabia.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on June 3, 2022.
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