AMMAN, JORDAN — Reports of a secret meeting in Amman, Jordan between Saudi crown prince and king-in-waiting Mohammed bin Salman and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appear to confirm that the Saudi kingdom and Tel Aviv are quickly moving forward to consolidate and develop their de facto alliance.
The latest development, reported by Israeli newspaper Maariv, comes despite an absence of diplomatic relations and the Arab and Muslim people’s deep loathing for Tel Aviv’s crimes against the people of Palestine.
The secret talks were held on the sidelines of an official visit to the Jordanian capital by U.S. President Donald Trump’s point-men on relations with the occupation, White House special adviser Jared Kushner and Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt.
Trump’s son-in-law Kushner and Greenblatt, a former chief legal officer of The Trump Organization, are both aggressive supporters of the settler-colonial theft of Palestinian lands. The two have been making a whirlwind tour to drum up support for the Trump administration’s so-called “deal of the century” peace plan – which the White House said would be implemented even in the absence of Palestinian consent. In March, The Intercept reported, MBS privately boasted that Kushner was “in his pocket.”
Saudi-Israeli meeting appears to greenlight railway deal
Shortly after reports of the meeting, the offices of President Netanyahu and the Transportation Minister Israel Katz announced that they would begin talks with allies in the U.S., EU, Middle East and Asian countries to promote a railway linking Haifa’s seaport to Jordan’s rail network and the Persian Gulf’s Arab monarchies.
The project has been dubbed “Tracks for Regional Peace,” and is envisioned to allow goods to be shipped from Europe straight to Haifa while skirting Syria. In Israeli promotional videos, the existing transportation infrastructure in Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf Arab states – referred to as “the pragmatic camp in the region” by Katz — is touted as being ready for the rapid implementation of the plan.
The enemy of mine enemy . . .
Tel Aviv and Riyadh are united in their hatred and fear of Iran, which is seen as a top threat to both countries — especially given its chain of successes in the region, including the successful fending-off of attempts to overthrow Syria’s government. The Saudi kingdom severed all diplomatic ties with Tehran in January 2016 following mass protests at Saudi diplomatic premises in the aftermath of the state-sanctioned arrest, torture and murder of Saudi Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.
Riyadh also blames Iran for the quagmire it faces in Yemen, against which then-Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman launched the 2015 “Operation Decisive Storm” in a futile bid to crush the Houthi Ansarullah movement and foist a puppet regime on the Yemeni people.
The Israelis and Saudis also enjoy significant overlap in their support of various factions in the Syrian civil war.
In November 2017, rumors circulated that a senior “Saudi prince” discreetly visited Tel Aviv, sparking rumors that the senior figure was Saudi Crown Prince bin Salman. Since seizing power last year in a palace coup against then-Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, bin Salman has launched an unprecedented effort to cozy up to the Israelis. This has included a half-hearted response to the U.S. de facto recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of the Israeli state and moves to coerce the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah into submitting to U.S.-Israeli plans for the region.
The choice of Amman as the venue for any Saudi-Israeli meeting is significant given long-seething Saudi disputes with the Hashemite kingdom over Jordan’s historic role as the official caretaker of Jerusalem, which the Arab masses and some Arab rulers saw as being sacrificed by the Saudis to the U.S. administration and Zionist occupation.
However in April, at the 29th Arab League summit in the Saudi city of Dhahran, the two dynasties appeared to reach a rapprochement over the issue. A joint statement by the League stressed the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan’s role as the key defender of Jerusalem while slamming the U.S. embassy move.
Yet the ongoing moves to normalize relations with the Israeli occupation show that deeds signaling the betrayal of the Palestinian people far outweigh the Arab rulers’ words of support for Palestine.
Top Photo | Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem, Feb. 11, 2018. Ronen Zvulun | AP
Elliott Gabriel is a former staff writer for teleSUR English and a MintPress News contributor based in Quito, Ecuador. He has taken extensive part in advocacy and organizing in the pro-labor, migrant justice and police accountability movements of Southern California and the state’s Central Coast.