Saudi Prince Salman bin Mohammed, the heir to the throne of Saudi Arabia, said in an interview in the Atlantic magazine while touring the US, that every people is entitled to have its own state, including the Israeli people This is certainly not official recognition of the State of Israel, but it is a harbinger of what may be to come.
Since being named heir, Prince Salman has embarked on a course as a reformer in Saudi Arabia. Important reforms have been the introduction of women’s right to drive cars, allowing women to travel without their husband’s permission, and the forced restitution of funds to the State by high-ranking Saudi officials who have been defrauding the State thru their official positions. Salman has let it be known that he intends to modernize the Kingdom. One of the main reasons for this initiative is the low price of oil and the consequent need for Saudi Arabia to attract foreign investment.
Many people think that Saudi Arabia is an ancient State, but in fact it was only founded in 1932, when the army of Ibn Saud, supported by the very conservative Muslim Wahhabi sect, overthrew the traditional Hashemite rulers of Mecca and Medina. Since then it has maintained its conservative Salafi version of Sunni Islam, and has abjured any and all incursions of Western culture into its Kingdom. This has included strict limitations on the rights of women and the exclusion of Christian and Western influences.
However, since the first Gulf War, when the Saudis allowed US forces onto its territory in order to expel the Iraqi forces of Saddam Hussein from Kuwait, and the growing menace of Iranian power in the Gulf region, the Saudis have changed their attitudes. They realize that their armed forces, notwithstanding the expenditure of huge sums of money in buying arms, is no match for Iran. They fear the Iranian Shia revolutionary doctrine that is their worst traditional enemy. They have also been shocked by the retraction of US power in the region by Pres. Obama, and perhaps also by Pres. Trump, who does not want to be involved in any Middle East Wars (apart from defeating the Islamic State forces). This has led them to re-evaluate their situation.
In fact they have found that the only effective power in the region that has a similar view to them and is prepared to confront Iran, is Israel. During the opposition to the Iran nuclear deal in Washington under Obama, Israel and the Saudis were essentially on the same page. But, while Israel was openly lobbying Congress (remember PM Netanyahu’s controversial address to Congress), the Saudis were carrying out soft diplomacy. Now Prince Salman as been in Washington meeting Pres Trump and lobbying Congress and is now on a tour of the US where he has met with Jewish leaders and is currently visiting the West coast.
In his comment about national rights, Salman did mention the Israelis and the Palestinians. How that would affect the Saudi attitude towards recognition of Israel remains to be seen. But, it is known that the Saudis are fed up with the lack of progress in negotiations and the attitude of Pres. Abbas of the PA, and the extremism of the terrorist Hamas in Gaza. How this will play out is uncertain, but look to see a major change in the region if or when Salman becomes King and he will change Saudi Arabia’s policies completely.