A Hebrew newspaper highlighted a “radical change” in the attitude of Saudi officials towards progress in the path of normalization with Israel before US President Joe Biden visited the Kingdom.
The right-wing Israeli newspaper Israel Hayom’s reporter and security analyst, Yoav Limor, recently visited Riyadh, the capital of the Kingdom.
Limor conveyed the impression of Saudi officials and their openness to a relationship with Israel. He said they greeted him with smiles, asking if he was an Israeli. “You are welcome, and they expressed their desire to open deep relations with Israel.”
Limor recalls what happened to him in a Saudi restaurant. He said: “In a restaurant in Riyadh, a local young man sitting at the table next to us asked me where I came from. I replied: Israel. He laughed and went alone, and when he came out, he looked and asked: “Really, Israel?” I answered yes. “Wow, you are welcome. We welcome everyone here happily, of all faiths.”
He added, “Biden will arrive in Saudi Arabia next Friday, after visiting Israel, in Jeddah. He will meet with all the leaders of the Gulf states and some other prominent Arab leaders, but most importantly, he will meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.”
“This means removing the boycott imposed on him after the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Biden wants the Kingdom to increase the amount of oil it produces to lower its price, but it will also try to promote normalization measures with Israel.”
Limor revealed that Biden will try to include an Israeli figure in his trip from Israel to the Kingdom, although the matter has not yet been agreed upon.
“The relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia will slowly warm-up, step by step, that may extend for a long period of time, but the visit to Riyadh shows how profound the change is taking place in the kingdom today,” he said.
According to the newspaper, in recent years, quite a few Israelis, most of whom are members of the army establishment, have visited the Kingdom under the leadership of the Israeli public security agency Mossad.
It claimed that those visits “were carried out in complete secrecy in private planes, but recently, the kingdom has also gradually opened up to Israelis holding foreign visas, especially businessmen.”
“Soon, Israeli companies will be able to fly east across the kingdom’s skies, and perhaps in the next stage, direct flights for pilgrims to Mecca will be possible.”
More and more Israelis will likely come to Saudi Arabia in the future, “some for business, others out of curiosity, and those will find a country much less threatening than can be assessed from a distance. The opposite is true: it is doubtful that it will become a destination on the “Israeli tourism map” However, what is happening these days between the Kingdom and Israel is a historical event that is difficult not to be affected.