Saudi - Israeli Relations
Relations between the House of Saud and the Israel is not new, in spite
of the official Arab embargo against the Zionist State. Sadat opened the
way, not to a peace process, but to what amounts to a mere submission to
Zionist hegemony. A hegemony constantly nurtured and skilfully maintained
by the United States against the will of 200 million Arabs. Sadat, however,
simply embodied openly a surrendering to global arrogance, which had started
already with King Hassan of Morocco and Tunisias Bourguiba in the sixties.
The House of Saud, a sisterly entity to the Moroccan monarchy, and with
close ties with Rabat, had therefore a natural, albeit interested, inclination
to close ranks with the Israelis.
The following information is mostly extracted from the Jewish media.
It shows that behind the hypocrisy of boycott of the Zionist State, the
ruling royal family has been secretly dealing with Israel at political,
security and economic levels without any consultation of or accountability
to its people. In fact they turned out, as we shall see, to have been the
driving force behind gradual submission of the Arab world to the Israeli-American
hegemony. Another article will be published at a later date detailing intelligence
and think-tank sources.
At the level of the political and intelligence contacts between Israel
and the House of Saud, news became more precise from the seventies onwards.
In 1976 Saudi Arabia sent a written message to Tel Aviv offering it a huge
amount of money in return for giving up the Arab territories occupied in
June 1967 (Haulam Hizza 26/10/1980). The letter which was secretly carried
to the Israelis by Tunisian Foreign Minister Mohammed Masmoudi, contained
three main ideas. These included Israels withdrawal from the occupied territories
and its agreement on the setting up of an Palestinian State headed by the
Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO); all the Arab States would recognize
Israel and would sign a peace treaty with it; finally, the Saudi regime
would grant the Zionist State the sum of three billion dollars.
Meanwhile, a number of close aides of the late Shimon Perez secretly
met with two Saudi envoys in Morocco(Dafar 12/02/1986). At the meeting
which was arranged by Rabats Interior Minister, the Israeli officials handed
over to the Saudis information over a plan to assassinate a number of members
of the House of Saud.
On behalf of the House of Saud, the Saudi ambassador in Washington,
Prince Bandar bin Sultan was the most prominent contact with world Jewry
and the Zionist officials, using the American capital as well as New York
as the venue of his secret contacts, away from any Arab peoples suspicion.
In an important meeting which took place in New York in November 1991, Prince
Bandar said that the rulers of Arabia had brought pressure to bear on the
PLO, and in particular on its leader Yassir Arafat, to issue a communiqué
recognizing Israel, a move which Arafat is known to have later made. The
Israeli daily Haaretz which reported the news of the meeting said that
Bandar indicated that Riyadh had advised Arafat to issue the above-mentioned
communiqué within the UN resolution no. 181. According to a detailed
report of the meeting, Bandar said that his government would not accept
a Palestinian solution based on the setting up of an independent Palestinian
State, but that it would favour a federation with Jordan. The report stated
also that the Israeli delegation present at the meeting were under the impression
that Riyadh believed that by postponing the negotiations and a settlement
they would radicalize the PLO.
He further told them that if Israel took the initiative to stop the
settlement policy in the Arab occupied territories, the Saudi regime would
make sure that the Arab States would agree to put an end to their economic
embargo. Even more interesting, Bandar informed them that his government
would also strive to have the intifada containedan indication, as the French
daily Le Monde said at the time, that it was the intifada that worried
the Israelis, not the PLO.
According to Israeli radio (Nov.19 91), Bandar met Jewish leaders as
a representative of King Fahd himself. Bandar reportedly also pointed out
that the Syrians would follow up their bilateral talks with the Israel,
while he also did not eliminate the likelihood of Damascus participating
in multilateral regional talks. He went further, stressing that the Saudi
Kingdom did not consider itself party to the Middle Eastern conflict rather
that it was playing an important role trying to persuade the Arab countries
to carry on talking to the Israelis until a global settlement was reached.
He indicated that once such a settlement was reached, Riyadh would be ready
to finance joint economic projects in the Middle East.
Speaking on behalf of the meeting, Henry Sigman, an executive director
of the World Jewish Congress, said that he personally worked hard to persuade
Bandar to hold the meeting. He also pointed out that the Saudi ambassador
had held numerous such meetings with Jewish figures prior to and during
the Gulf war, and that Bandar was instrumental in pushing his country to
play a key role in that war, apart from getting Syria involved alongside
the anti-Iraqi coalition.
According to the same Israeli radio, King Fahd also explained to the
American Administration that the Kingdom as well as the Gulf States were
ready to finance joint projects involving, among others, sea water desalination.
According to Arab diplomats in Washington referred to by the radio, the
Saudi proposal involved billions of dollars provided that the United States
would take charge of the planning part of the projects and on the condition
that the Israel would make territorial concessions to the Arab regimes who
feared the wrath of their public opinions if normalization were to be without
Furthermore the Jerusalem-based Arabic daily Al-Shaab reported on 2nd
November 1992 that an American-Israeli delegation arrived in the Saudi Kingdom
a few days earlier on a three-day visit. The Israelis who entered the Kingdom
with western passports included prominent members of the international Zionist
movement. Among these were Robert Linton, the head of the World Jewish Congress,
Howard Seko Adron, member of the WJC Executive Committee, Henry Sigman (WJC),
Uri Magens, psychologist and high-ranking Israeli officer, Ashrin Hagam,
engineer in Israeli military industry, Ilaand Avranil of the Mossad, Yakob
Munir, Economic expert (Likud party) and John Shaffron, an American Jew
shareholder in the American oil company Exxon. While the Saudis did not
seem to have requestedlet alone demandedanything substantial from the Israeli-Jewish
delegation, the latter, headed on the Israeli side by Prince Bandars friend
David Kamhi, made a number of demands. These included exercising pressure
on the Arab States to immediately put an end to the boycott of Israel and
King Fahad taking steps to control the phenomenon Islamic extremism, ending
support for the Palestinian Islamic movement Hamas and stopping funds to
the intifada , striving in order to put an end to anti-Israeli military
operations from Lebanon. David Kamhi went further to urge King Fahd to use
his personal influence to obtain the release of Israeli pilot Ron Arad who
was made prisoner after his plane was shot down in Lebanon.
Ariel Sharon, the Israeli Defence Minister during the 82 invasion of
Lebanon was quoted by the Israeli radio (20/02/89) to have declared that
a few years earlier, the Saudi regime had offered Israel $100 billion to
have the Saudi flag hoisted over the Sacred Mosque in Jerusalem. It was
Adnan Khashoggi, a known close friend of King Fahd, who carried the message
to the Israelis. This request was turned down flatly by Menahim Begin. The
Israeli daily Haaretz (16/02/94) also reported the same story of money for
Back in 1986 the Jewish newspaper Dafar (9/01/86) quoted the notorious
arms dealer as boasting that he played a personal role in Sadats normalisation
of relations with Israel. For its part, the London-based Al-Dastour (20/08/1990)
reported that Khashoggi invited to his 55th birthday, organized in Paris,
six Israeli figures including among others Yakob Namrodi, former military
attaché in the Shahs Iran, and the Yedihot Aharonot daily correspondent
in Cairo, Ms Samdar Perry. In an interview with the latter, the Saudi arms
dealer boasted to have secretly arranged in 1982, in his own residence in
Kenya, the Israeli Operation Moses to transport the Falasha Jews from Ethiopia
to occupied Palestine via the Sudan. Ms Perry also revealed that Khashoggi
met the Israeli Premier Shimon Perez several times and that he attempted
to organize a meeting between Perez and Arafat, but that Perez refused to
meet Arafat face to face at that time.
Meanwhile House of Saud members met Israeli officials directly many
times. Radio Tel Aviv reported (03/02/94) that the Israeli Deputy Foreign
Minister were to meet the Saudi Deputy Foreign Minister in Ottawa after
a trip to Europe and North America. The meeting continued a series of previous
contacts between the two sides and aimed, according to Al-Moustaqbal (10/02/94)
which quoted the Jewish press, to discuss the recovery by Riyadh of the
Sanafir Islands in the Aqaba Gulf.
In 1993, the Arabic weekly Akhbar Al-Usbu (30/12/93) quoted Israeli
and American sources as saying that the Jewish Premier Izhak Rabin had secretly
met Saud al-Faisal, Riyadhs Foreign Minister the previous week, probably
in the French capital, while another meeting had taken place at about the
same time, and for the first time, between a Mossad officer and five Saudi
secret service officers in the Greek capital.
On the economic front, the activities between Israel and the Saudi Kingdom
have been rife. In 1986, Saudi businessmen attended an Israeli agricultural
fair and passed agreements with Israeli companies for the supply of irrigation
equipment (Alhamshamar, 30/09/1987). Meanwhile, in 1988 a Saudi millionaire
close to the ruling family, one certain Imad Ahmad Afifi, stayed with his
wife for a week in a hotel in the Gush Katif settlement of the occupied
Gaza sector (Al-Fajr, Jerusalem, 19/07/1988).
Going a step further, the discreet visits from both side were made a
little more official. In 1992 Saudi Arabia granted Jewish businessmen the
permission to enter the Kingdom for business purposes (Haaretz, 21/08/1992),
while according to high-ranking Israeli officials, Riyadh was studying
the possibility to give the Israeli airline El-Al permission to cross Arabias
air space during its flights to the Far East (Yedihot Aharonot, 25/07/1994).
The Saudi government has not so far made this move official, so it is not
known what happened next.
Furthermore, In view of the steady, albeit discreet, flocking of rich
Saudi businessmen to occupied Palestine, the Israelis set up in 1993 a Development
Fund in order to benefit from Saudi and Gulf investments and shareholding.
The idea came to Peter Jarin, the Fund initiator, who had visited Arabia
where businessmen were said to have warmed up to the idea of having access
to an Israeli Fund and shares. Maariv which reported the news (18/11/1993)
said that the Fund was set up especially for foreigni.e. Arabinvestors and
that in the previous week Saudi businessmen bought shares to the tune of
one million dollars in the Israeli company Yashtek.
The same year, in October 1993, an unnamed Saudi company started proceedings
to buy flats in The Karni Shimon settlement (Maariv, 29/10/1993). About
two months later the Israelis sold computers to the Kingdom for use in the
irrigation systems of the public areas and of the royal family.
Most important yet is the trade in hydrocarbons. Israel was reported
in 1993 to have stopped buying Mexican gas and oil after passing an agreement
in this respect with Qatar (Daftar, 01/02/1994), which opened the door for
the other Arab markets for Israel. Saudi businessmen visiting the Jewish
State were said to have shown readiness to sell the Israelis both gas and
oil given the increasing needs of the Jewish State and the need of cash
by the Saudi regime which is in deep economic crisis.
In the meantime the Israelis have not wasted time in strengthening their
presence on the Saudi market. In 1995 they passed an agreement for the supply
of citrus fruit to the Kingdom as well as to the other Gulf countries (Maariv,
Saudi normalization of relations with the Zionist entity involved even
the religious sphere. King Fahds special envoy, the Sudanese-born Sheikh
Ishaq Idriss Sakhota, visited the Jewish State in May 1992, according to
Al-Fajr (14/05/1992). During his one week-long stay in occupied Palestine,
he was received successively by Israeli President Haim Herzog, the Israeli
mayor of Jerusalem as well as senior rabbis. The purpose of the visit was
not revealed, but Sheikh Sakhota said that he believed his visit was a new
hope for what is to follow.
This is survey concentrated mainly on the Jewish press which, as a whole,
is more believable than the Saudi propaganda machine. Apart from intelligence
and think-tank reports, it is the only source for this sensitive issue.
According to this report there was genuine and serious contacts between
the Saudis and the Israelis which involved senior figures from both ides
and which played a role in major events in the Middle East in recent years.
To repeat what we said in the beginning, that is, on the contrary to the
general belief that the House of Saud is leading the rebellion against the
Israelis because of their claimed Islamic allegiance.
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