Abdulaziz Saud

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 face-saving returns.

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 flag-waving.

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, 04/01/1995).

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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