Iran-Saudi ties won’t hurt Israel normalization bid, official says

Middle East Monitor  /  March 10, 2023

Israel’s bid to normalize ties with Saudi Arabia will not be hurt by Riyadh’s rapprochement with arch-foe, Iran, a senior Israeli official was quoted as saying on Friday, Reuters reports.

There has been no official response from the Israeli government on the Chinese-brokered restoration of ties announced Friday.

The senior Israeli official was quoted by Israeli diplomatic journalists travelling with Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to Rome, as saying that the rapprochement between Riyadh and Tehran began about a year ago and included reciprocal visits.

Saudi Arabia had felt that the West’s position towards Iran had weakened, the official said. Nonetheless, it would not impact Israel’s bid to establish diplomatic ties with Riyadh, the official said.

The determining factor for Israel was not the formal nature of Saudi-Iran ties but rather the West’s position toward Tehran, the official was quoted by public broadcaster, Kan, and Reshet 13 News as saying.

Netanyahu has said he wants full diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia, expanding on normalization deals reached with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain on 2020 under US brokership.

Israel and Sunni Muslim Gulf monarchies share concern over Shia Iran’s nuclear and missile programs and its proxy network. But, while Saudi Arabia blessed the UAE and Bahrain pacts, it has stopped short of formally recognizing Israel in the absence of a resolution to Palestinian statehood goals.

Israeli opposition leader, Yair Lapid, called the restoration of ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran an “utter and dangerous failure of the Israeli government’s foreign policy.”

After beating centrist, Lapid, in a 1 November election, Netanyahu returned to power in December at the head of a hard-right government. Lapid had briefly headed a ruling coalition that ousted Netanyahu in a previous election.


Netanyahu slammed by political foes over Saudi-Iran rapprochement

Middle East Monitor  /  March 11, 2023

Israeli politicians used the surprising Saudi-Iran rapprochement to stage a severe attack on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli media reported on Friday.

Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed to re-establish diplomatic relations on Friday after talks in Beijing between top security officials from the two rival countries.

“As a result of the talks, Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed to resume diplomatic relations and re-open embassies within two months,” Iranian news agency Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported.

Commenting on this, Israeli opposition Leader Yair Lapid announced: “The agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran reflects the complete and dangerous failure of the Israeli government’s foreign policy.”

Former Defence Minister and fierce critic of Netanyahu Benny Gantz stated: “The enormous security challenges facing the country are increasing and the prime minister and his cabinet are busy with a coup d’état.”

Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Naftali Bennet added his view that: “Countries in the world and the region are watching Israel in turmoil over the dysfunctional government that is engaged in systematic self-destruction. This is what happens when one deals with legal insanity all day instead of doing one’s job against Iran and strengthening relations with the United States. This delivers a fatal blow to efforts to build a regional coalition against Iran.”

Bennet stressed that this is a: “Resounding failure of the Netanyahu government and stems from a combination of political neglect with the country’s general weakness and internal conflict.”