The news that Saudi Arabia and Israel have been involved in discussions this year to establish formal diplomatic ties is just the latest in a series of secretive talks over the past few years that the two countries have had to explore avenues to normalisation.
Such a deal would be a game-changer for the region, and it’s always good to see the United States working to engage the Middle East after years of talk about pivoting away to other regions of the world or prioritising other issues.
Saudi Arabia has a strong hand in these discussions in part because Israel’s current leader Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he wants such an opening very much.
However, there are a lot of complicated issues involved. If this potential deal were a meal, it seems the parties are only in the early stages of gathering the ingredients before they start to mix them and then ultimately bake them.
Given the ingredients and steps involved, this deal may take much longer to cook than some observers expect. But many unexpected things can happen in a shorter time frame these days, as we saw earlier this year with the China-brokered deal between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Here are seven things Saudi Arabia should keep in mind as Israel makes regional normalisation and integration a top priority:
1. Time is on its side
In the latest news on the talks, it’s apparent that some in both America and Israel have time-sensitive calendars in their minds when it comes to striking a deal in large part because of elections.
On its part, Saudi Arabia does not have to factor in this element all that much, and, therefore, it is not in a race with some political or electoral clock in other countries like Israel or America.
Remember how Israel responded when Saudi Arabia offered the Arab Peace Initiative more than two decades ago? The silence was deafening.
When former US President Donald Trump tried to get Saudi Arabia to join the September 2020 Abraham Accords, Riyadh made the right decision to opt-out because it was not the right timing.
Don’t rush things.