Skip to main content

Analysis: Israel torn between Saudi Arabia, Turkey on Khashoggi affair

For Israel’s leadership, the anti-Iran alliance with Saudi Arabia is more important than reacting on the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
TOPSHOT - Protestors hold pictures of missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi during a demonstration in front of the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul on October 5, 2018. - Jamal Khashoggi, a veteran Saudi journalist who has been critical towards the Saudi government has gone missing after visiting the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018, the Washington Post reported. (Photo by OZAN KOSE / AFP)        (Photo credit should read OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images)

It is hard to find Israeli leaders commenting on Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi journalist who disappeared (and was apparently murdered) in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul Oct 2. Cabinet ministers, members of Knesset and officials in the Foreign Ministry — they all avoid the subject like the plague.

That’s because Israel is caught between two polar extremes that suddenly turned upside down. On the one hand, it is an ally of Saudi Arabia, and on the other, its bitter rivalry with Turkey is legendary. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is seen in Israel as an almost liberal reformer, who is leading his country toward a new era, while Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is regarded as a benighted dictator, who jails journalists and suppresses democracy. And now that’s all turned upside down. In the Khashoggi incident, the Saudis are the villains, while Erdogan is having his turn as a mature and enlightened leader who shows responsibility and defends democracy. It is the exact opposite of how things usually are — at least from an Israeli perspective.

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.