While Saudi Arabia and Israel lack formal diplomatic ties, their relationship has witnessed intriguing developments in recent years, marked by a blend of tensions and pragmatic cooperation. This article delves into the nuances of whether Saudi Arabia truly supports Israel and the factors shaping this intricate dynamic.

Historical Tensions and the Arab-Israeli Conflict

The origins of the Arab-Israeli conflict can be traced back to the early 20th century, with disputes over land and the establishment of a Jewish state in the region. Saudi Arabia has long been a staunch supporter of Palestinian statehood and was a key proponent of the Arab Peace Initiative in 2002, which offered normalization of ties with Israel in exchange for a comprehensive peace agreement and the creation of an independent Palestinian state.

Shifting Geopolitical Realities in the Middle East

In recent years, the perceived threat from Iran’s growing regional influence and concerns over its nuclear program have brought Saudi Arabia and Israel closer together, albeit covertly. Both nations share a common interest in countering extremist groups like ISIS, leading to reports of intelligence sharing and tacit cooperation on security matters.

Under-the-Radar Cooperation Between Saudi Arabia and Israel

Despite the lack of formal diplomatic relations, there have been numerous reports of secret meetings and intelligence sharing between Saudi and Israeli officials. The Al-Ula summit in 2021, which saw Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt engage with Qatar, was seen as a potential stepping stone towards normalization of ties with Israel. Additionally, Saudi Arabia has permitted overflights for Israeli civilian planes, a move that was unthinkable just a few years ago.

Obstacles to Formal Saudi-Israeli Relations

However, significant obstacles remain in the path of formal Saudi-Israeli relations. The Palestinian issue remains a major roadblock, with Saudi Arabia insisting on the establishment of an independent Palestinian state as a prerequisite for normalization. Domestic opposition within the Kingdom and concerns over upsetting regional allies like Jordan and Lebanon also pose challenges.

Economic Interests and Opportunities

Nonetheless, there are potential economic incentives for Saudi Arabia to pursue closer ties with Israel. As part of its Vision 2030 plan to diversify the economy, Saudi Arabia could benefit from open trade and investment with Israel, particularly in areas like technology, desalination, and renewable energy, where Israel has significant expertise.

The Role of the United States

The United States has played a crucial role in brokering the Abraham Accords, which saw the normalization of ties between Israel and several Arab nations, including the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. While Saudi Arabia has not yet joined the accords, there is speculation that the Biden administration could facilitate a Saudi-Israeli normalization agreement, given the potential benefits for U.S. interests in the region.

Public Opinion in Saudi Arabia and Israel

Public opinion in both Saudi Arabia and Israel remains divided on the issue of normalization. While some surveys suggest a gradual shift in attitudes, particularly among younger generations, there is still significant opposition to formal ties in both countries. Overcoming these public perceptions will be a crucial challenge for any potential normalization agreement.

Looking Ahead: Scenarios for the Future

As the region grapples with evolving geopolitical dynamics, several scenarios could unfold regarding Saudi-Israeli relations:

  1. Gradual Normalization: If progress is made on the Palestinian issue and regional tensions subside, Saudi Arabia could gradually normalize ties with Israel, following the path of other Arab nations.

  2. Formalized Peace Agreement: In a more ambitious scenario, Saudi Arabia and Israel could reach a formalized peace agreement, potentially facilitated by the United States or other international actors.

  3. Continued Covert Cooperation: Alternatively, Saudi Arabia and Israel may continue their covert cooperation on security and intelligence matters while maintaining a public stance of non-recognition, at least in the short to medium term.


The relationship between Saudi Arabia and Israel is marked by a complex interplay of historical tensions, shifting regional dynamics, and pragmatic cooperation driven by shared concerns. While obstacles remain, particularly regarding the Palestinian issue, economic incentives and the potential benefits for regional stability could pave the way for increased engagement between the two nations in the years ahead. As the geopolitical landscape continues to evolve, the nature and extent of Saudi-Israeli relations will remain a closely watched development in the Middle East.

FAQ: Does Saudi Arabia Support Israel?

Saudi Arabia does not have official diplomatic relations with Israel. However, there have been recent talks of normalization between the two countries.

What is Saudi Arabia’s stance on the Palestinian Authority?

Saudi Arabia has traditionally supported the establishment of a Palestinian state and the two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

How does Iran impact Saudi Arabia’s relationship with Israel?

Iran’s influence in the region often complicates Saudi Arabia’s approach towards Israel, as both countries view Iran as a mutual threat.

Who is the current Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia?

The current Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia is Mohammed bin Salman, who has been involved in various diplomatic efforts in the region.

Are there any ongoing efforts to normalize relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia?

There have been reports of backchannel talks and efforts to establish diplomatic relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia in recent years.

How does the situation in Gaza affect Saudi Arabia’s stance on Israel?

The ongoing conflicts in Gaza, involving Palestinian groups like Hamas, often shape Saudi Arabia’s approach towards Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

What role does Riyadh play in the broader Arab countries’ relations with Israel?

Riyadh often influences the stance of other Arab countries towards Israel due to its regional influence and geopolitical considerations.