Israel and the Arab Gulf States: Drivers and Directions of Change
Ulrichsen, Kristian Coates
The visit of a “delegation” of Saudi academic and business figures to Israel on July 22, 2016, has shone a spotlight onto the nature of the discreet relationships between the six states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and Israel. The July visit was unprecedented in its visibility and may in part have constituted a “trial balloon” to indicate to officials in Riyadh how such a visit would be received within Saudi Arabia. While it remains unlikely that direct diplomatic relations will be established between Israel and GCC states in the near future, regional realignments are expanding the scope for unofficial contact and tangible cooperation in numerous policy spheres. A set of common interests (if not values) has emerged in the turbulent aftermath of the 2011 Arab uprisings, the 2015 Iranian nuclear agreement, and, framing both, the sense of bewilderment felt equally in Jerusalem and in GCC capitals at US policies in the Middle East under the Obama administration.