On the surface, it would seem that Saudi Arabia and Israel would be the worst of enemies and indeed, they have never had diplomatic relations. After all, the Saudis have championed the cause of the Palestinians, who are oppressed by the Israelis. Israelis say they are besieged by Muslim extremists, and many of these extremists are motivated by the intolerant, Wahhabi ideology born and bred in Saudi Arabia.
But beneath the surface, these two old adversaries actually have a lot in common and have become the strangest of bedfellows.
Rumors about the budding relationship have been circulating for the past few years, with gossip that the two countries have been holding secret meetings and exchanging intelligence. In 2015, former Saudi and Israeli officials confirmed that they had, indeed, held a series of high-level meetings to discuss shared concerns such as the growing influence of Iran in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Lebanon, as well as Iran’s nuclear program. Shimon Shapira, an Israeli representative who participated in secret meetings with the Saudis, said: “We discovered we have the same problems and same challenges and some of the same answers.”
On May 5, Prince Turki bin Faisal, Saudi Arabia’s former intelligence chief and one-time ambassador to Washington, and retired Israeli Major General Yaakov Amidror, former national security advisor to Prime Minister Netanyahu, spoke together in Washington DC at an event hosted by the policy wing of the Israel lobby AIPAC. The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, The event, broadcast live online, showed that Saudi Arabia and Israel have finally come out of the closet –– together.