The transformation of Saudi-Israeli relations

Jonathan Rynhold, Michal Yaari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


This article analyzes the transformation of a new and important relationship between Israel and Saudi Arabia, bringing to light hidden aspects of their relations. It analyses the causes and character of this shift, as well as the opportunities, constrains and challenges for the relationship going forward. The primary cause of the transformation is the greatly increased threat posed by Iran and a shared concern about the reliability of the United States as an ally in this regard. The rise of the Iranian threat has weakened the influence of the Palestinian issue over Saudi policy to Israel. In the 2010s Israel and Saudi Arabia cooperated extensively to contain Iran, despite the absence of peace negotiations. Moreover, in contrast to the past, the Saudi regime is more flexible regarding the terms of any Israeli-Palestinian deal and sanctioned steps towards normalising relations with Israel prior to a comprehensive peace agreement. The future development of the relationship is still constrained by the transnational resonance of the Palestinian issue, but this constraint is weakening.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)799-818
Number of pages20
JournalIsrael Affairs
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Iran
  • Israel
  • Israeli-Palestinian conflict
  • Israeli-Saudi relations
  • Saudi Arabia


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