Israel’s Channel 10 is reporting that Saudi Arabia ordered Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to accept the Trump administration’s Israel-Palestinian peace plan when it it released — or resign.
Does this mean that the Jewish state has a new ally in the region?
While Israel isn’t ready to publicly declare Saudi Arabia an ally, the Abbas summons is telling. The two nations share common enemies: Iran, who has vowed the destruction of the Jewish state, and its proxy terrorist organization, Hezbollah, Israel’s menace from across the northern border.
Analysts maintain that after ISIS’s disappearance, which appears imminent, Hezbollah will become the greatest threat in the region — an area of grave concern to both the Wahhabi kingdom and Israel.
“Saudi Arabia is declaring war on Hezbollah, not for its love of Israel as much as for its hatred of Iran,” wrote Yaron Friedman, Ynet’s commentator on the Arab world. “Not a day has passed in the past few months without the Saudi press attacking the Lebanese organization and its leader, Hassan Nasrallah.”
During the month-long Second Lebanon War in 2006, Hezbollah launched some 4,000 missiles at Israel. Israelis fear that with Iranian power swelling in the region that a better armed Hezbollah will not hesitate to instigate new attacks.
And the Iranian threat isn’t limited to Israel’s northern border. With Iranian-Hamas relations warming recently, Israel and the Saudis both fear this could spell another geographical expansion for the Shiite organization — a better armed Hamas and another potential war front stemming from the Gaza Strip in the South.
“Preventing the creation of an Iranian corridor is a heavy strategic mission, which will be hard to accomplish without American involvement,” Oded Eran, a senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies, wrote in Ynet, but added that “the Iranian danger alone likely won’t be enough to openly bring Saudi Arabia and Israel closer together.”
Accordingly, and unsurprisingly, Saudi flexed its regional authority and purse strings by suddenly summoning Abbas to Riyadh last week where he was allegedly told to accept the U.S. peace plan when proposed, avoid Iran and cut ties with Hezbollah.
“Abbas likely went there to receive economic aid from Saudi Arabia and discuss the danger of Hamas turning into ‘the Palestinians’ Hezbollah,’” Friedman maintained. “In Lebanon, there is no one who would dare try to collect Hezbollah’s weapons. The Palestinian reconciliation will also come to an end once Fatah tries to collect Hamas’ weapons.”
The Trump administration has reportedly begun drafting an Israeli-Palestinian peace proposal led by special envoy Jason Greenblatt and President Trump’s son in law Jared Kushner, according to a New York Times article on Saturday.
“We have spent a lot of time listening to and engaging with the Israelis, Palestinians and key regional leaders over the past few months to help reach an enduring peace deal,” Greenblatt told The Jerusalem Post.
Saudi Arabia’s tacit alliance with Israel could help push the diplomatic process forward in this case.