Exclusive: Saudis say normalization with Israel ‘matter of time'

Guy Azriel

Senior News Desk Manager | @GuyAz

4 min read
An honor guard member is covered by the flag of Saudi Arabia in Washington, the United States.
AP Photo/Cliff Owen, FileAn honor guard member is covered by the flag of Saudi Arabia in Washington, the United States.

Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman conditions progress on American support

Senior diplomatic officials shared with i24NEWS that the Gulf state is looking to normalize relations with Israel, but that this will take time. 

"The direction of Saudi-Israeli relations is normalization, but it will take more time and we must not put the cart before the horse." So said Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir in a meeting held in recent weeks with Jews from the United States, as revealed in an official document obtained by i24NEWS.

In a separate meeting which was held last month with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi presented a list of demands in exchange for progress, all directed at Washington. The Palestinian issue was not mentioned in the conversation.

i24NEWS also learned that Adel Al-Jubeir met in recent weeks with U.S. Jewish community leaders in Washington where he delivered messages regarding future relations with Israel. According to the document obtained by i24NEWS, Al-Jubeir told the audience that progress on Israeli-Saudi normalization is ongoing, but that more time is required for it to bear fruit.

"Israel and other Gulf states have been gradually normalizing for years. The process must be allowed to mature," Al-Jubeir noted. 

Video poster

A Jewish community leader from the U.S. told an Israeli diplomat following the meeting that Saudi normalization with Israel will happen, adding "it is only a question of timing." The document also revealed that in a separate meeting, Al-Jubeir told Jewish American officials who recently visited Saudi Arabia that the future success of normalization also depends on the success of the moderate elements in the Kingdom. According to Al-Jubeir, there is still significant opposition to the normalization within Saudi Arabia, which will take time to overcome.

In addition, the Saudis expect the U.S. and the West to support the monarchy, which promotes internal reforms that advance moderation of Saudi society. According to the participants in the conversation, the purpose of the visit was to “feel the ground” and convey messages among non-governmental organizations in Washington with the aim of stabilizing U.S.-Saudi relations.

Video poster

The messages conveyed in the conversation were aimed at the Biden administration and included allegations of “unfair treatment” from Washington regarding OPEC oil cuts, as well as what the Saudi described as ongoing and institutionalized discrimination by the Americans. Al-Jubeir has accused the U.S. of overlooking far-reaching social reforms led by the crown prince.

i24NEWS also revealed that in a recent conversation with an American delegation to Riyadh, organized by the Washington Institute, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman was asked what would bring Saudi Arabia to join the Abraham Accords and normalize relations with Israel. 

Bin Salman listed three main demands, all referred to Washington: an affirmation of the U.S.-Saudi alliance, a commitment to follow through on weapon supplies as though Saudi Arabia were a NATO-like country, and an agreement that will allow the Saudis to exploit their extensive uranium reserves for a restricted civil nuclear program.

Earlier in January, Saudi Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman al-Saud announced that the kingdom plans to use its uranium resources, which reportedly amount to around 1.4 percent of current global reserves, to develop a nuclear power program.

According to the source, who was present at the meeting, the Palestinian issue was not mentioned in the conversation.

This article received 4 comments