Since the conclusion of the Abraham Accords, there has been speculation that Saudi Arabia—which went to war with the nascent Jewish state in 1948 and since then has not made peace—will be the next Arab country to establish diplomatic relations with Jerusalem. Y. Yehoshua explains a significant step in the kingdom’s internal discussion of the issue:
Saudi Arabia—which is essentially a religious state and regards itself as the leader of the Islamic world—will find it difficult to form official relations with Israel without first establishing the legitimacy of this move from the perspective of the sharia (Islamic law). Moreover, the Abraham Accords, signed with the kingdom’s acquiescence, have already sparked a discussion about the religious legitimacy of normalization. As part of this debate, clerics opposed to the accords stated that normalization with Israel is an act of treason against Allah and against the Prophet Mohammad who fought the Jews.
Should Saudi Arabia decide to raise the level of diplomatic representation with Israel, it will need the religious establishment to back this move and provide jurisprudential sanction for it. . . . An unusual and recent article on the religious legitimacy of diplomatic relations with Israel . . . appeared in the Saudi state daily Al-Jazirah on June 20, 2022. The article, titled “The Fiqh [Jurisprudence] Regarding al-siyasa al-shar’iyya (Sharia-Based Policy) and the State of Israel,” is by Dr. Khalid bin Mohammad al-Yousuf, a senior lecturer on international law at the Imam Mohammad bin Saud Islamic University in Riyadh and the secretary-general of the university’s Supreme Council.
He argues that, in the modern era, there has been a significant change in the perception of the state and in the rules of the game in international relations. According to the new rules, he says, Israel is an existing reality just like any other world country, and a member of the UN. Therefore, it must be treated according to the accepted norms of the international community. Al-Yousuf calls on Saudi clerics to reexamine the sphere of international relations and formulate a new religious perception of [the subject], compatible with these new norms, that will enable the ruler of an Islamic state to employ independent judgement and form ties with Israel if he deems this to be in the interest of his country. He emphasizes that normalization with Israel will allow many Muslims to come and pray in Jerusalem and “rebuild it,” which cannot be done without maintaining ties with Israel.
The article is apparently aimed at providing jurisprudential sanction to a political move of maintaining diplomatic relations with Israel while preserving Saudi Arabia’s religious and theocratic credibility and even bolstering the religious legitimacy of its regime.
At the link below, Yehoshua translates and explicates the article.