Papyrus documents first published in 1911 cited a Jewish temple built in southern Egypt in the 5th century BCE. No one could find it—until 1997.
A delegation of Saudi academics, businessmen, and other notables, led by a retired general, came to Jerusalem last week, where they met with Knesset members as well as with Dore Gold, Israel’s top diplomat. Aaron David Miller comments on the visit’s significance:
No current Saudi officials were included, but the visit could not have happened without high-level governemnt approval. This is not necessarily a harbinger of strengthening ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel. But it indicates how Saudi Arabia and the region are changing. . . .
[N]on-governmental meetings between Israelis and Saudis in academic and policy forums are fairly common. . . . But publicly announced meetings in Jerusalem at the King David hotel are different. The nominal purpose was discussion of the 2002 [Saudi peace] initiative. . . . It stands out that the Saudis did not call for Israel’s blanket acceptance of the 2002 initiative [as they have previously done]. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has spoken about his willingness to accept the Saudi plan—with modifications. . . .
A decade ago, sending a Saudi delegation to Israel without some significant quid pro quo or breakthrough in the peace process would have been unimaginable. . . . [But] testing the waters is one thing; to make major and unmatched concessions on a matter that still resonates broadly and deeply amid the Arab world’s divides and dysfunction would be quite another. The Saudis may be less hostile to Israel, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t require big concessions as the price of getting closer.