Israel's latest government under Benjamin Netanyahu is increasing its talks with Saudi Arabia regarding strengthening military ties and intelligence sharing between the two countries. The U.S. government has been backing the recent talks.
The Israeli-Saudi discussions are part of an attempt to form a NATO-style anti-Iran alliance in the Middle East between Israel and the United States' Gulf Arab allies.
While Saudi Arabia has still not normalized relations with Israel, the leaders of both nations have subtly increased cooperation with one another. In 2022, both countries participated in their first public, joint military exercises.
Talks were reportedly held between Saudi and Israeli officials ahead of a meeting of the U.S.-Gulf Cooperation Council Working Group on February 16. Additional talks were expected to take place over the weekend during the Munich Security Conference.
Under the Abraham Accords, Israel normalized with the UAE and Bahrain in 2020 and has since increased cooperation with the U.S.'s Gulf allies.
Since the Abraham Accords, the U.S. has brought Israel into U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), which is the U.S. command responsible for the Middle East.
Adding Israel to CENTCOM operations has allowed for more cooperation between Israel and Arab countries in the region. Prior to the Abraham Accords, Israel was classified under U.S. European Command since it did not have normalized relations with most U.S. allies in the Middle East. The U.S. and Israel have a joint interest in creating a future anti-Iran alliance in the region that will focus on integrated air defense systems.
With the Netanyahu government insisting that it will expand settlements on the West Bank, it is unlikely that Saudia Arabia will engage in a normalization deal with Israel, as the Saudis have stated that such a deal would depend on the creation of a Palestinian state.
However, it is possible that the Saudis could eventually be enticed by the U.S. to do a normalization deal with Israel if the U.S. provides additional military assistance and increased arms sales.
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