Saudi-Israeli Economic Cooperation in the Pipeline

By Zalman Ahnsaf

Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister, Mohammed Bin Salman. Saudi Press Agency/Handout via REUTERS  

YERUSHALAYIM — Normalization with Saudi Arabia still lies in the unforeseeable future, but economic cooperation is already in the pipeline, Globes reported on Monday.

Egypt plans to build a gas pipeline that will cross the Gulf of Eilat to Saudi Arabia, and the gas that will be sold to the Saudis will also be from Israeli sources, the financial daily reported.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi hopes to significantly increase gas production to boost exports and meet ever-growing domestic needs. In addition to its own huge offshore gas fields, Egypt imports large quantities of gas from Israel.

The Saudis still have an abundance of oil, but they need to obtain natural gas to augment their resources in order to pursue the vision of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, which includes the establishment of the city of Neom and tourism projects along the Red Sea coast and the Gulf of Eilat. The enormous supply of electricity required by such projects has made the Saudis receptive to a deal with Egypt and Israel.

The deal is still in the early stages, says Globes, but like the plan to allow Israelis to vacation on the Saudi-controlled islands of Tiran and Sanafir reported last week, it indicates a softening of policy.

While Saudi Arabia has so far rebuffed overtures to normalization, insisting that settlement of the Palestinian issue must come first, it seems that whether directly or indirectly, normally or otherwise, links with Israel are developing.

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