At sundown on April 18, Israel will begin celebrating its 70th Independence Day. But Saudi Arabia’s crown prince gave the Jewish people an early gift this year.
In an article published in the Atlantic on Monday, April 2, Mohammed bin Salman (also known as MBS) affirmed the Jewish people’s right to their own state.
“I believe that each people, anywhere, has a right to live in their peaceful nation,” said MBS in an interview with the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg. “I believe the Palestinians and the Israelis have the right to have their own land. … We have to have a peace agreement to assure the stability for everyone and to have normal relations.”
Is Saudi Arabia the Pied Piper of Middle East Peace?
The answer to that question is a resounding “we’ll see.”
Two days after MBS’ statement, the former prime minister of Qatar, Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, tweeted, “Israelis have a right to live in their land in peace and safety, this is my conviction. I’ve had this conviction for many long years, and I still do.”
How many more Arab nations will follow Saudi Arabia’s lead?
Experts Urge Restraint
Soon after the article quoting MBS appeared in the Atlantic, the prince’s father, King Salman, issued a statement reinforcing “the kingdom’s steadfast position toward the Palestinian issue and the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people to an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital.”
According to Middle East experts, MBS (now serving as First Deputy Prime Minister, President of the Council for Economic and Development, and Minister of Defense) hopes to build economic and security ties with Israel while strengthening the kingdom's relationship with the Trump Administration.
“It’s not as big a deal as people make of it,” said Yoel Guzansky, a senior researcher at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies. “There’s no love behind the Saudis’ different approach; we have shared interests. And they think with Israel, and through Israel, they can better promote their interests in the U.S. He’s really looking toward Washington.”
Shared Arab Concerns
Among the security concerns bringing Saudi Arabia closer to accepting Israel:
- Iran's growing and deadly reach
- The political resilience of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad
- Iran’s and Syria’s close relationships with Russia
Qatar shares the above concerns, but became isolated when Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates cut ties with it, citing their funding of terrorism and increasingly closer ties to Iran. Experts believe Qatar is becoming desperate to improve ties with their neighbors and the U.S.
Aaron David Miller is a veteran peace negotiator for the U.S. and directs the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Middle East Program. In a tweet, he called the Saudi acknowledgment of Israelis’ right to their own land “new,” while cautioning, “This is smart transaction; not transformation.”
Still, Hope Flickers
Arabs’ fatigue of war and terrorism may be pushing more of Israel’s neighbors toward peace. In February, The Washington Post and other news sources reported a growing Egypt-Israel bond to oust Jihadists from Sinai. The Post dubbed Egypt-sanctioned Israeli airstrikes in Sinai “a striking secret alliance between two countries that have fought three wars against each other and then presided over a fragile peace.”
Of the Saudi and Qatar statements regarding Israel, the Jewish Journal pointed out that both Saudi Arabia and Qatar have funded Islamic terror groups. That is what “makes these latest statements from Salman and Al Thani so noteworthy.”
Today, April 12, is Holocaust Remembrance Day. Israel came to a standstill at 10 a.m. Thursday in their time zone, as sirens wailed throughout the country in memory of the 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis during World War II. Buses and cars halted on streets and highways as Israelis stepped out of their vehicles and stood with heads bowed.
How You Can Pray
- Please take some time today to remember; to pray for protection of the Jewish people during these tumultuous times in the Middle East; and to ask that God will stamp out the worldwide spread of anti-Semitism.
- Praise God for recent softened statements about Israel and the Jewish people by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, a step toward eventual peace.
- Thank God for the fragile peace between Egypt and Israel.
What Your Gift Will Do
- Your gift today is an ideal way to support Israel on Holocaust Remembrance Day. It helps to ensure that the work by Jewish Voice and our partners to eliminate the spread of anti-Semitism will continue throughout the world.
- In Israel, your gifts provide practical, emotional and spiritual help to elderly Holocaust survivors, including much-needed and financially out-of-reach dental and vision care. You are also helping our partners in Israel to provide critical care to struggling single mothers, widows and orphans, and Jewish people who are new immigrants to the Land.
- Also, when you give to Jewish Voice today, you support the efforts of our partners as they work full time to achieve Arab-Israeli reconciliation, and share the Good News of Yeshua with young people in the Israeli army.