Saudi Arabia, despotic and a US ally, is a key player in the Middle East, mainly due to its oil reserves.
In the New York Times, Prince Turki al-Faisal, former director of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence services and ambassador to the United States, writes that until Israel gives up its colonial addiction to land, the Arab world will not normalise relations:
Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Islam, the custodian of its two holy mosques, the world’s energy superpower and the de facto leader of the Arab and Muslim worlds — that is why our recognition is greatly prized by Israel. However, for all those same reasons, the kingdom holds itself to higher standards of justice and law. It must therefore refuse to engage Israel until it ends its illegal occupation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights as well as Shabaa Farms in Lebanon. For Saudis to take steps toward diplomatic normalization before this land is returned to its rightful owners would undermine international law and turn a blind eye to immorality…
Until Israel heeds President Obama’s call for the removal of all settlements, the world must be under no illusion that Saudi Arabia will offer what the Israelis most desire — regional recognition.
Sure, Saudi Arabia is the last country to be talking about legality and rights, but its importance cannot be ignored.