Possible Peace Between Israel and Saudi Arabia

Optimists believe that if peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia, the motherland of Islam’s two holiest cities, can be achieved, then other Muslim countries could be prompted to also make peace with Israel. Prior to possibly normalizing relations with Israel, Saudi Arabia has made the following three major requests to Washington: (1) a civilian nuclear program to be monitored by the United States, (2) permission to purchase more advanced US weapons, and (3) a mutual security treaty that would compel the United States to defend Saudi Arabia if that nation is attacked.

The first two requests should not be granted without the approval of the government of Israel. If either request is granted, all products and services should be provided by American workers employed by American companies. Saudi Arabia should be made to justify its request for a civilian nuclear program in light of its vast oil reserves and high wind speeds and ample sunlight capable of producing renewable wind and solar energy. The kingdom would be expected to cease urging fellow OPEC members to limit global oil output.

Today, no hostile nation threatens Saudi Arabia after the Saudis recently normalized relations with Iran. A mutual security treaty would obligate US soldiers to risk their lives to defend the oil-rich kingdom which has its own well-equipped army, currently intervening in a civil war in Yemen.

In contrast, Israel, through out 75 years of war and conflict with Arab adversaries, has never asked for US troops to fight its battles. Israel has fought all its wars with its own citizen-soldiers. Israel is under continual threat from Iran and its proxies who deny Israel’s right to exist. They want to wipe Israel off the map and free Palestine from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. Israel’s only request is for annual US military aid. Today, some politicians and commentators advocate reducing and eventually ending American military aid to Israel.

To achieve normalization, Saudi Arabia would expect Israel to make concessions to the Palestinians. In exchange for a promise not to annex the West Bank and to begin negotiations with the Palestinians for a two-state solution, Israel can also request a US security guarantee. Of course, both normalization and a security guarantee can always be canceled. Israel will no doubt prefer to continue to rely on its own people for its first line of defense.

About the Author
Ted Sheskin is a professor emeritus of industrial engineering at Cleveland State University, and the author of a textbook, Markov Chains and Decision Processes for Engineers and Managers. He has published peer-reviewed papers on engineering systems and mathematical algorithms. His letters to editors addressing politics, economic policy, and issues facing Israel and American Jews have appeared in the NY Times, Daily News, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Cleveland Jewish News, Jewish Week, the Forward, and Jewish Voice.
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