Is Saudi–Israel normalization worth it?
Driving a hard bargain
ANALYTICS 19 September 2023 - 15:40
On September 14, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu departed for the US to attend the annual UN General Assembly meeting. The Israeli media also confirmed that he will meet with US President Joe Biden, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
The meeting with President Biden came amid strained relations between Washington and Tel Aviv due to the ongoing political instability and endless mass riots in Israel against the ultranationalist government.
Netanyahu and Biden have not met since Netanyahu took office nine months ago. In Israel, that has been perceived as criticism of the hardline government's effort to overhaul the judicial system and its settlement construction policies.
Moreover, the Biden administration does not hide its discontent and concerns regarding Netanyahu’s government’s harsh rhetoric against Palestinians and the Palestinian Authority (PA), which recently triggered violent protests of Palestinians and a brutal police crackdown.
Since its formation in 2022, Netanyahu's government has sought to undermine the PA in the West Bank while strengthening its rival, Hamas, in the Gaza Strip. It was a strategy to perpetuate the split between Gaza and the West Bank and rule out any suggestion of a newly strengthened Palestinian leadership in Ramallah as a potential peace partner for Israel.
Consequently, the situation with the PA and domestic violence turned into an onerous burden for Benjamin Netanyahu in his efforts to seek diplomatic normalization with Saudi Arabia, the leading regional actor in the Gulf, despite the full diplomatic support of the West. However, Israeli security forces’ frequent crackdowns on Palestinians and missile attacks on the Gaza Strip raised eyebrows in Riyadh and resulted in the stalemate of the Riyadh-Tel Aviv normalization process.
The current Washington – Riyadh confrontation also added fuel to the crisis, as on September 17, the Saudi government informed the Biden administration it is freezing US-brokered efforts to normalize relations with Israel because Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hardline government is unwilling to make any concessions to the Palestinians.
Earlier, the Biden administration pushed Saudi Arabia for normalization ties with Israel in exchange for NATO-like security guarantees and helping the Gulf kingdom kick-start a civilian nuclear program. Although these talks did not involve the PA, they would include some concessions to them, such as an Israeli settlement freeze and a pledge from Israel to never annex the occupied West Bank.
Such poor prospects of normalization with Riyadh apparently pushed Netanyahu to seek reconciliation with the PA. Seemingly, official Tel Aviv apprehends that an empowered PA is a precondition for any photo-op with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, not to mention for the Israeli leader’s prospects of a Nobel Peace Prize.
Nevertheless, Saudi Arabia officials have not entirely ruled out the prospect of a deal with Israel., stating that the latter is a "potential ally". In Riyadh's vision, the ideal peace and normalization with Israel will be possible after the full withdrawal of Israel from the occupied Arab territories, a "just settlement" of the Palestinian refugee problem, and the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Although the Israeli government seems enthusiastic about a diplomatic thaw with Saudi Arabia, it unlikely will withdraw from the territories populated by Palestinians in exchange for diplomatic relations with Riyadh. Indeed, full normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia would be a dramatic accomplishment but not nearly as transformational as many may think.
In the wake of a war of words with the Biden administration and uneasy talks with Israel, Saudi Arabia bolsters a pragmatic approach to develop a more pragmatic foreign policy agenda. For example, Riyadh’s attempts to leave Yemen under a favourable ceasefire agreement with Houthis, its strong economic partnership with Russia and China, and its weaponization of the OPEC+ format perfectly suit the kingdom's interests.
Instead of concessions in security, Netanyahu’s government may promote economic measures to ease the PA's credit and cash flow crunch. Recently, Israel has approved the development of the Gaza Marine natural gas field off the Gaza coast in the Mediterranean Sea and is promoting the development of a Palestinian industrial zone in Tarqumiya, in the southern West Bank.
Benjamin Netanyahu is still stuck in a political quagmire as he desperately tries to rebuild his legacy, establish partnerships with Arab neighbours, address the criticism scale at home, and complete the normalization with Saudi Arabia. However, under current conditions, it is becoming increasingly clear that to reach a breakthrough with Riyadh, Netanyahu will have to make some weighty leadership decisions, some dangerous and some painful.
Year-end last-ditch Azerbaijani-Armenian peace deal: How likely? Contemplations with Orkhan Amashov/VIDEO
Provocation or delimitation? Armenia balances between delusion and common sense
Expansion of consumer lending in Azerbaijan Caliber.Az explores the pros and cons
The facade of urgency: Simonyan’s optimism and Aliyev’s realism Aligning statements with actions
Baku resolute in resisting those trying to shatter its balanced policy Don't be a menace to South (c)
Pro-Armenian lobbyists enjoy la dolce vita while Armenia is looking for new "backers" Paris mayor Hidalgo's 60k euro trip comes under fire
Russian expert: NATO military may be deployed in Armenia under the guise of observers Caliber.Az talks to Dmitry Solonnikov
28 November 2023 - 17:30
Azerbaijanis offered Armenians to stay in Khojaly Karabakh Armenian says
29 November 2023 - 18:03
The stalling of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict and the secret plans of power players Analysis by Mikhail Shereshevskiy
28 November 2023 - 11:49
Ashgabat hosts 7th meeting of intergovernmental commission on Azerbaijan-Turkmenistan co-op
28 November 2023 - 15:50
The Gordian Knot of Palestine Is it really just chopping?
29 November 2023 - 17:09
Who are Palestinians in Israel's prisons?
01 December 2023 - 00:12
Axis, Allies in the Eurasian rimland reminiscent of 1930s
30 November 2023 - 23:12
Israel slams Red Cross for approach in Gaza amid released hostage's poor condition
30 November 2023 - 21:56
Kazakhstan denies news on plans to purchase Rafale fighter jets
30 November 2023 - 21:19
Azerbaijani Speaker Sahiba Gafarova arrives in GermanyPHOTO
30 November 2023 - 21:09
Milli Majlis committee condemns anti-Azerbaijani reports of European Parliament
30 November 2023 - 20:49
Azerbaijani, UAE leaders hail development of bilateral relations
30 November 2023 - 20:36
Verkhovna Rada cancels Ukrainian presidential election
30 November 2023 - 20:25
Turkish Air Force aircraft to patrol Romania's skies
30 November 2023 - 20:14
United Nations calls 2023 hottest year ever
30 November 2023 - 20:03
Finland terminates agreement on cross-border cooperation with Russia
30 November 2023 - 19:52
France opens door to EU talks on Israeli settler sanctions
30 November 2023 - 19:41
Israel summons Spanish ambassador over Gaza war comments
30 November 2023 - 19:30
EU's defence strategy needs to include Ukraine, von der Leyen says
30 November 2023 - 19:22
Moldova insists on withdrawal of Russian troops from Transnistria
30 November 2023 - 19:15
Turkish Finance Minister keen to reduce national inflationVIDEO
30 November 2023 - 19:03
ANAMA reveals number of landmines defused in liberated territories
30 November 2023 - 18:56
Polish government wants permits for Ukrainian carriers to be restored
30 November 2023 - 18:49
United Nations Climate Change Conference COP28 kicks off in UAEAzerbaijani delegation attending the event
30 November 2023 - 18:45
Spanish Foreign Minister: Europe at its most critical moment
30 November 2023 - 18:41
Russia's Lavrov says ready to promote Baku-Yerevan peace treaty
30 November 2023 - 18:33
Hamas source says 10 Israeli hostages to be freed soon
30 November 2023 - 18:21
NATO special rep: Azerbaijan contributes to peace and security in the region and beyond
30 November 2023 - 18:10
Azerbaijan to launch admission to Karabakh University from 2024
30 November 2023 - 18:09
Azerbaijani, Swiss foreign ministers discuss cooperation
30 November 2023 - 18:05
Jeyhun Bayramov: Armenia's smear campaign detrimental to peacePHOTO
30 November 2023 - 18:01
Turkish intelligence takes out PKK terrorist plotting attack on military base
30 November 2023 - 18:01
Year-end last-ditch Azerbaijani-Armenian peace deal: How likely?Contemplations with Orkhan Amashov/VIDEO
30 November 2023 - 18:00
"I wouldn't put much faith in Yerevan's claims on peace"Ukrainian expert tells Caliber.Az
30 November 2023 - 17:54
Kremlin comments on Armenia-UK military cooperation
30 November 2023 - 17:47
OPEC+ mulls new oil production cuts amid Middle East conflict
30 November 2023 - 17:47
Azerbaijani, Hungarian top diplomats discuss cooperation
30 November 2023 - 17:40
Expansion of consumer lending in AzerbaijanCaliber.Az explores the pros and cons
30 November 2023 - 17:40
Azerbaijan postpones trial of Armenian saboteur detained in Kalbajar
30 November 2023 - 17:33
Armenian, Russian FMs hold talks in Skopje
30 November 2023 - 17:26
Iran, Saudi Arabia discuss promotion of military ties
30 November 2023 - 17:19
Ukrainian President Zelenskyy visits Kupiansk front
30 November 2023 - 17:12
Latvian Prosecutor General’s Office looks into aircraft rent for former PM’s needs
30 November 2023 - 17:05
Politico declares Türkiye's Erdogan "one of Europe's most powerful people"
30 November 2023 - 16:58
German foreign minister: Russia trying to harm OSCE
30 November 2023 - 16:51