With Saudi Arabia refusing to issue entry visas to Israeli delegates and the UAE postponing the purchase of Israeli defense systems, Israel has every reason now to be worried about its normalizations efforts.
A report this Sunday by Bloomberg revealed that Saudi Arabia has refused to issue entry visas to Israeli delegates who were invited to a UN tourism conference in the city of Al-Ula, northwestern Saudi Arabia. The move just showed another clear example of conflict between the Kingdom and Israel, a strong response to those who believe Tel Aviv can normalize ties with Riyadh in the near future, including Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
An Israeli delegation of 12 members were invited by the UN to take part in the World Tourism Organization conference in Saudi Arabia, a two-day convention that began on this Sunday. But Saudi authorities, as Bloomberg reported, denied their entry by refusing to give them visas for no pre-announced reason.
Although Saudi Arabia and Israeli do not have official diplomatic ties, rumors of the two sides’ willingness to restore relations in the framework of the Abraham Accords made the world believe the impossible is indeed becoming possible. It was last year in July, for example, that Saudi Arabia announced it will open its airspace to Israeli air carriers, paving the way for more overflights to and from Israel.
However, Saudi Arabia’s cold shoulder to Israel proved that conflicts are still high and that for Israel, the path to the potential normalization of ties with the kingdom is still long and complicated.
Saudi’s cold shoulder was only the tip of the iceberg for Israel!
Few hours after Israel realized of Saudi Arabia’s decision not to let Israeli delegates enter the Kingdom, Officials in Tel Aviv got shocked again, this time by the UAE’s announcement that the Persian Gulf country has suspend the purchase of Israeli defense systems. This must be even more hurtful for Netanyahu and his government because Saudi Arabia is not a member of the Abraham Accords, but the UAE is.
The news of Abu Dhabi’s second thought about buying defense systems from Israel was first reported by Israel’s Channel 12. As the report noted, “there has been revealed signs of a crisis between the UAE and Israel as the Gulf state has informed officials in Tel Aviv that it wants to suspend the purchase of Israeli defense systems”.
As the channel quoted from informed sources, what caused the UAE to make such a controversial decision despite signing normalizations agreements with Israel, were mainly “Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir’s storming of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the attack on the Palestinian town of Huwara by settlers, and the statements of Israeli Finance Minister, Bezalel Smotrich, calling for wiping it to be wiped out”.
According to the Israeli channel, UAE President Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed told Israeli officials this week that “until we can ascertain that Prime Minister Netanyahu has a government that he can control, we can’t work together.”
This is not to mention the sad fact for Israeli government that since last month when the office of the Prime Minister Netanyahu announced a visit by him to the UAE, the visit has been canceled for three times so far, with no new date to be set yet.