Motasem A. Dalloul
Middle East Monitor / October 4, 2023
At the Saudi-Indian Investment Forum held following the G20 meeting in India, Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammad Bin Salman, said that the creation of the Economic Corridor had been announced by New Delhi, which will connect India, Middle East and Europe together, would achieve the common interests of “our countries by enhancing economic connectivity”.
Knowing that this Corridor includes Israel, Bin Salman reiterated that it would contribute to the development of infrastructure, including railways, port connections, improved flow of goods and services and enhanced trade exchange between the involved parties.
Regardless of all controversy related to the Saudi conditions to sign a deal to normalize ties with Israel, this proves that the Kingdom is going ahead very fast with the matter. The remarks made by Bin Salman about the Economic Corridor removed all ambiguities about the real relationship between Saudi Arabia and Israel. He clearly spoke about common interests and trade exchange among the countries involved in the project.
Emirati political analyst, Salem al-Ketbi, made it clearer as he said that this “ambitious project is a common ground for cooperation and integration”, pointing out that “economics serves as the gateway to politics” and said “it can effectively chart a new geopolitical map for alliances, as the interests of these parties are more intertwined than ever before which, in turn, reflects on their regional and international policies and orientations.”
Al-Ketbi, who published his opinion on the website of an Israeli daily, indicated that Saudi Arabia is already involved in geopolitical arrangements that included Israel as a genuine part of the region, without giving any concerns to the Palestinian issue.
Former American Special Envoy to the Middle East, Jason Greenblatt, who now frequently visits Saudi Arabia, said that the Kingdom is undergoing an “unbelievable transformation,” and advised US President Joe Biden to focus on direct talks and avoid pressuring Israel on the Palestinian issue “beyond what the Saudis want”.
He stated that Bin Salman does not want what the Palestinians want, pointing out that the Saudis only need improving economic conditions of Palestinians, and this has already happened.
Greenblatt, who is a Jew, said that he attended a celebration of the Jewish New Year holiday at the US embassy in Riyadh.
Greenblatt said that he wears the Jewish kippa in the Kingdom without feeling any negative response from the Saudis. This is, along with what he said about the Saudi demands; also prove that the Gulf country has already passed beyond signing a normalization deal.
In September, an Israeli delegation of nine staffers, led by Tourism Minister, Haim Katz, visited Saudi Arabia as observers for the UNESCO World Heritage Committee meeting. Katz said that “cooperation in the field of tourism has the potential to bring hearts together, and economic progress.” He hinted that normalization of ties has been already in place, but he said that hearts still to be brought together. It means that marketing the normalization for the Saudis is yet the only obstacle, pledging he “will work to advance cooperation, tourism and the foreign relations of Israel.”
Days after Katz’s visit, Israeli Communications Minister, Shlomo Karhi, leading a 14-member delegation of senior Israeli officials, arrived in Saudi Arabia to attend the 4th Extraordinary Congress of the Universal Postal Union (UPU).
Karhi, an orthodox Jew, took the issue of the visit to dimensions beyond the political relations that Jews thought it needed decades to reach after signing a deal. Kahri published pictures and a video of him participating in a morning Jewish prayer service in Saudi Arabia. He also hinted that his prayer from Riyadh towards Jerusalem ushers in the return of Jews to Saudi Arabia.
“Just as the windows in the house of Daniel were opened facing Jerusalem, so too in Riyadh we were able to pray with windows open facing Jerusalem,” Karhi said in a statement, referring to Daniel, the biblical character exiled to Babylon.
In a previous piece, I have stressed that Saudi Arabia would go ahead with the normalization of ties with the Israeli occupation, regardless of the demands of the Palestinians and regardless of their rights and the continuous Israeli violations against the Palestinians.
While the Israeli ministers were visiting Saudi Arabia, the Israeli occupation forces were preventing Palestinians from entering Al Aqsa Mosque and the Jewish settlers were desecrating it and attacking Muslim worshipers inside it.
More than this, while the country which hosts the two most sacred places for Muslims, is closed for millions of Muslims, but it has been open for Jews to make business and to perform their mythical rituals and broadcast them live on social media. While Saudis are already easing entry of Jews to the Kingdom, they are terminating contracts of Palestinian workers and pushing them out.
A friend of mine who studied with me at the university, called me last month telling me his work contract was terminated and he became illegal for work in the country. He told me he had no place to go, along with his family.
My uncle passed away three years ago. However, he taught at the Saudi schools for more than 30 years; his family could not find him a grave a week after his death.
The fact on the ground regarding the normalization of ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel is not related to signing a deal. Signing the deal is not as important as what is actually going on, on the ground.
Good relations, exchange of official visits, Israeli planes fly over Saudi skies, giving up the Palestinian demands and ignoring the Israeli Jewish desecration of holy sites and violations against the Palestinians and their rights is going on unnoticed by Riyadh. This is more than normalization of ties, but it is participation with the Zionists in the occupation of Palestine.
Motasem A. Dalloul is Middle East Monitor’s correspondent in the Gaza Strip