Saudi Arabia is showing signs of warming relations with Israel, despite the kingdom’s refusal to join the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain in establishing a formal normalization agreement with the Jewish state.
Arab News, Saudi Arabia’s main English-language newspaper, made a splash September 18 on social media when it changed its Facebook cover photo to a Hebrew greeting in honor of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.
Earlier this month, Abdul Rahman al-Sudais, the imam of Mecca’s Grand Mosque, stirred controversy with a Friday sermon that called for Muslims to practice religious tolerance, especially toward Jews.
The sermon was interpreted in the Arab media as a religious endorsement for Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries to establish official relations with Israel.
On September 2, Saudi Arabia gave all countries permission to use its airspace for flights to the UAE.
While the statement avoided naming Israel specifically, it was clearly directed toward the recent agreement reached between the UAE and Israel.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly stated that he is optimistic about the Saudis recognizing Israel.
Trump told reporters on September 15, “I spoke with the king of Saudi Arabia. At the right time I do think they will come in. Yes, I do.”He said there may be up to nine Arab countries interested in making peace with Israel.
“We’re going to have a lot of other countries joining us, including the big ones,” Trump said.