Skip to main content

What Saudi Arabia can offer Israel

The unofficial visit by a retired Saudi general to Israel was a quiet overture that indicated Riyadh is willing to explore normalization with Israel in return for advancing the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative.

This week, the Saudi Foreign Ministry clarified that a delegation headed by retired Gen. Anwar Eshki that visited Israel July 22 did not represent the views of the government in Riyadh. In response to a question by pro-Saudi newspaper Al-Hayat, the Foreign Ministry said that the Saudi government “has no ties to Eshki and the likes of him.” “The likes” of Eshki was a reference to Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud, who in recent years has met openly with former senior Israel Defense Forces officials Yaakov Amidror and Amos Yadlin, both retired generals. The Saudi general and prince have granted generous interviews to Israeli media outlets, maintain ties with Israeli peace organizations and sit alongside Israeli delegates at international conferences around the world.

Eshki himself recently told Israeli publication Yedioth Ahronoth, “My government did not ask me to conduct negotiations, and the Israeli side was not given such a mission or authorization either. … I don’t need permission because I am not a government official and not in any official capacity. If I were in an official capacity, this would not have happened. I define all the meetings I had with the Israelis as private and noncommittal conversations.”

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.