Saudi Arabia Is Changing Fast. What Will That Mean for the U.S. and the Region?

Having recently returned from a weeklong visit to Saudi Arabia, during which he met with various prominent persons, Robert Satloff comments on the mood in the country, the rapid social and political changes, attitudes toward the U.S., and the possibility of normalization with Israel:

Five years ago, . . . we heard senior leadership characterize Israel as a “potential ally.” Now we see evidence of creeping normalization all around, with businesspeople, bankers, and athletes beginning to visit the kingdom in their professional capacities.

Yet one would be mistaken to conclude that full normalization is right around the corner. This is not due to lack of progress on the Palestinian issue, but rather to the fact that normalization—while certainly beneficial to the Saudis—is less important to them than it was to the states that signed onto the Abraham Accords. For one thing, the kingdom will be grappling with other major political, social, and economic reforms and has to consider carefully the manner and order in which they are implemented. . . . A society can only take so much reform at any one time.

Satloff’s remarks can be heard in full here, and a detailed written summary can be read at the link below. (Moderated by David Schenker. Video, 76 minutes.)

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Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia, U.S. Foreign policy

Condemning Terrorism in Jerusalem—and Efforts to Stop It

Jan. 30 2023

On Friday night, a Palestinian opened fire at a group of Israelis standing outside a Jerusalem synagogue, killing seven and wounding several others. The day before, the IDF had been drawn into a gunfight in the West Bank city of Jenin while trying to arrest members of a terrorist cell. Of the nine Palestinians killed in the raid, only one appears to have been a noncombatant. Lahav Harkov compares the responses to the two events, beginning with the more recent:

President Joe Biden called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to denounce the attack, offer his condolences, and express his commitment to Israel’s security. Other leaders released supportive statements as well. Governments across Europe condemned the attack. Turkey’s foreign ministry did the same, as did Israel’s Abraham Accords partners the UAE and Bahrain. Even Saudi Arabia released a statement against the killing of civilians in Jerusalem.

It feels wrong to criticize those statements. . . . But the condemnations should be full-throated, not spoken out of one side of the mouth while the other is wishy-washy about what it takes to stave off terrorism. These very same leaders and ministries were tsk-tsking at Israel for doing just that only a day before the attacks in Jerusalem.

The context didn’t seem to matter to some countries that are friendly to Israel. It didn’t matter that Israel was trying to stop jihadists from attacking civilians; it didn’t matter that IDF soldiers were attacked on the way.

It’s very easy for some to be sad when Jews are murdered. Yet, at the same time, so many of them are uncomfortable with Jews asserting themselves, protecting themselves, arming themselves against the bloodthirsty horde that would hand out bonbons to celebrate their deaths. It’s a reminder of how important it is that we do just that, and how essential the state of Israel is.

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Read more at Lahav’s Newsletter

More about: Jerusalem, Palestinian terror