Jewish Leaders in Saudi to Advance Normalization with Israel

Phil Rosen during his visit to Saudi Arabia

DUBAI: A delegation of some 20 American Jewish leaders visited Saudi Arabia recently, and met with senior officials in the kingdom, including at least six government ministers and senior representatives of the Saudi royal house, Israeli media reported on Friday.

The group visited Riyadh at the invitation of the Saudis and with the blessing of the Biden administration, following a visit to the United Arab Emirates aimed at strengthen ties after it signed a deal to normalize ties with Israel last year.

"The Saudis are preparing their citizens for normalization with Israel," claimed Jewish-American businessman Phil Rosen, a member of the delegation. "They see Israel as a regional power and admire its ability to defend itself," against Iran, a common foe.

"I would not be surprised if we see normalization between Saudi Arabia and Israel in the coming months or year," he added, according to Ynet News, an Israeli news website.

Rosen, a personal friend of Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu, said the kingdom is taking various "small steps" towards normalization, among them allowing Israeli flights to use Saudi airspace.

He also claims Riyadh has been holding covert talks with Washington about joining the Abraham Accords, and that without the kingdom's blessings, the UAE and Bahrain would have not signed the agreement.

The Abraham Accords formalizing diplomatic ties between Israel and the two Gulf nations were forged by the Trump administration, and signed in September, 2020 at the White House.

Morocco and Sudan later joined the agreement.

Asked if the Saudis are not conditioning normalization with Israel on a breakthrough that could resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Rosen said: " In my opinion, the Saudi's will not condition normalizations on peace with the Palestinians. They are waiting for the right moment," he said.

Saudi Arabia, at least in its official statements, has repeatedly stated that it will not normalize its relations with Israel without progress in peace talks with the Palestinians.

Rosen said that he met the Saudi ministers in charge of cultural matters who said he was organizing a film festival scheduled for next year, who told him he would be happy to see Israel films take part.

"I met young Saudis officials and asked them what do you dream about? Their answer stunned me - they said their dream is to visit the beaches of Tel Aviv," Rosen said.

Rosen was under the impression that the Saudis were ready to move forward with a normalization deal with or without the Biden administration.

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